Dmitry Shostakovich, SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Trio No. 2 / String Quartet No. 8 / 7 Poems, Op. 127

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The most overtly autobiographical string quartet of Shostakovich’s career.

Practically all commentators on Shostakovich's music make the distinction between the public oratorical idiom of his symphonies and the intimate, confessional tone of his 15 string quartets — music in which he could speak more freely and personally, without the pressure to conform to the uplifting Socialist-Realist style the Soviet government demanded of its artists. His Eighth, far and away the most often performed of the series, is even overtly autobiographical: Shostakovich uses his own initials (in German notation, D-S-C-H designates the notes D, E-flat, C, B natural) as a prominent motive and quotes his own works (including a klezmer-flavored tune written for the Piano Trio No. 2, also on this disc). The Voces Intimae Quartet brings this music an edge-of-their-seat tension that does seem to reflect the bitterness and fear Shostakovich felt from the Soviet regime.