Variations on a themeJune 15, 2007
This fell through my letterbox this morning, a cut price 6CD set of Shostakovich’s String Quartets performed by The Borodin Quartet. I know next to nothing about Shostakovich, and like most of my explorations into clasical music over the last year or so its a purchase that was guided by the opinion of someone I respect, on this occasion obviously Keith Rowe. So far I have only played the sixth and last disc in the set, containing Shostakovich’s 14th and 15th Quartets, the last two he wrote.
Both are incredible, but the 15th and last is an incredibly passionate, powerful piece of music. At once clearly a mournful, emotionally charged composition (one of the six parts is titled Funeral March) it is also a wonderful study in colour, the contrast in light and shade and the immense beauty to be found in the use of a narrow pallette of tools. (the six parts of the quartet are all fixed in the same key, providing a sense of restrained simplicity to the music).
The musicians clearly make these recordings special however, imparting an energy and intense passion into the music that elevates it up into the room around you, weaving its way about your head in quite glorious manner. Having only listened so far to one sixth of this set I sense I may have already heard the best of it, but this one disc alone is worth the entry price alone (only Â£22 for a 6CD set, excellent value). I’m interested to hear if anyone else out there knows this music well and can give their thoughts, but for now thanks Keith.