Shostakovich – Quartets 7 & 8


These two are the best known of Shostakovich’s imposing work of fifteen string quartets. The complete series spans his whole life, and follows the emotional turmoils of his times. Number 8 is dedicated to the victims of fascism and the war. Shostakovich wrote it in three days while visiting Dresden. When the Borodin Quartet played it for him in 1962, the composer wept and when the quartet finished, they sneaked quietly out of the room.

The premiere of both of these works was two years earlier, by the Beethoven Quartet, this is the premiere recording. The Beethoven Quartet was founded in 1922 by graduates of the Moscow Conservatory. It developed a close friendship with Shostakovich, and premiered most of his quartets. Some are dedicated to the whole quartet, others to members. The connection is evident, and I’m sure you cannot get any closer to the composer himself than this. This is a reference recording for many other quartets that have taken on the daunting task of playing these pieces.

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