fragments  vol. 1

SHOSTAKOVICH STRING QUARTET CYCLE, VOL. 1
ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET
with ROGER WOODWARD, piano
3 Disc CD Set
FCL 1988


"The sharpness of the contrasts come across like physical blows with the Alexander Quartet, and there is a steely edge to their sound in some sections which can be quite unsettling. There is great beauty, but no comfort in the exquisite dying moments of the conclusion." — MusicWeb International

"The Alexander is definitely on to something in its 2006 three-disc set of the first seven Shostakovich quartets plus his Piano Quintet and a pair of his Preludes and Fugues transcribed for string quartet... While one might reasonably prefer the energy of Borodin or the anxiety of the Beethoven Quartet's performances, the power, terror, and grace of the Alexander Quartet's performance makes it in nearly every way the equal of its Soviet forbears. Producer Judith Sherman has captured the sound of the Alexander Quartet with incredible fidelity and her recordings are every bit the equal of the best of the big labels." — All Music Guide

Excerpt from the liner notes by Eric Bromberger

The present recording offers Shostakovich’s first seven quartets and the Piano Quintet, as well as arrangements of two of his Preludes and Fugues, Opus 87. The first half of Shostakovich’s quartets span 22 years, from 1938 to 1960. But 1960, when the Seventh Quartet was completed, would be the pivotal year for this cycle. Later that year Shostakovich composed his Eighth Quartet while on a visit to East Berlin, and that work would transform his conception of the quartet, leading it in entirely new directions. The final eight quartets of the cycle will be discussed in the second volume of the Alexander Quartet’s recordings, which will be released to mark the Shostakovich centenary in September 2006. The first seven quartets cover a wide range of expression: from the tentative First Quartet, Shostakovich wrote two quartets from the era of World War II, two more that he held back during the Soviet crackdown on its artists in the post-war years, and two that were written at least partially in response to his first two marriages. It is the record of a composer moving from a neutral first effort to the realization that the string quartet might be the medium for more personal expression.


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VIDEO: String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108

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TRACK LISTING

DISC 1

String Quartet No. 1 in C Major, Op. 49
String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 68 
String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83

DISC 2

String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73 
Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57 
Prelude & Fugue in C Minor, Op. 87 No. 20 
(arr. Grafilo)

DISC 3

String Quartet No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 92
String Quartet No. 6 in G Major, Op. 101
String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108 
Prelude & Fugue in D-flat Major, Op. 87 No. 15 
(arr. Grafilo)