String Quartet No.1 Op.49 in C Major
String Quartet No.4 Op.83 in D Major
String Quartet No.9 Op.117 in Eb Major
Released: April 12, 2005
Catalog Num: HMC901865
The young Jerusalem Quartet - 3/4 of Russian descent - is perhaps the finest quartet of its generation in Shostakovich - and this recording in particular is among the very best single discs of Shostakovich quartets available.
There are no "early" quartets - so seeing quartet No.1 should not scare anyone away as a possible peace of modestly inspired DSCH-juvenilia. In fact, it's one of his finest, even if it was just meant to be a test-run for the composer to see how he got along with the format of the string quartet. Very well, he must have realized... and 14 others - many of them masterpieces - followed.
Quartet No.4 in D-Major, op.83 (one of my perennial favorites along Nos. 1, 3, and 9) with its long pedal points underneath a firm pulse, its beautifully orchestral and melodic second movement, the subtle nervousness and two gently irresistible pulses tip-toe-galloping over more open string pedal points of the Allegretto third movement, all before cumulating in the pizzicato-heavy Allegretto finale is performed with the technical wizardry expected these days, and the emotional investment so rarely heard anymore. The same goes for the other two works here. If there is a group - on disc - that can please as much as the Borodin's first two cycles do, this is it. And amid the plethora of complete Shostakovich cycles that has come on the market over the last ten years, this quartet is one where I actively wish that they throw their hat in the ring, too! Very, very highly recommended.