This is the penultimate issue in the St. Petersburg series of Shostakovich quartets that has been one of the high points of Hyperion's recent projects.
The 12th quartet was composed just before Russian troops entered Prague and is a bitter, angrily conceived piece. The concluding movement shapes an Allegretto, an Adagio and another Allegretto into one vast sprawling piece, a tone poem of mournful beauty.
#14 returns to the more conventional three-movement structure whilst #10 is an earlier 1964 essay in four movements, rather like the 6th and 9th symphonies. In both works, the St. Petersburg Quartet rise to the occasion providing very emotional performances.
In comparison, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet still remain 'hors conceurs' but for new purchasers, this modern cycle is a very viable alternative.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech