|Shostakovich||String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat minor, Op. 138|
|String Quartet No. 14 in F-sharp major, Op. 142|
In this special anniversary weekend, the Brodsky Quartet present the full cycle of Shostakovich’s String Quartets. Each concert includes a performance of two quartets and a brief introduction from Elizabeth Wilson, who will share her extensive knowledge of Shostakovich’s life and music, with each of the 15 string quartets examined and illuminated through lively discussion with members of the Brodsky Quartet.
Paul Cassidy, viola, writes: ‘The infamously brooding and personal timbre of the viola leads our composer to a particularly dark and lonely place in Quartet No. 13. Though it often shows signs of a loving character, this is a troubled soul who cannot escape the walls of his tortured mind. Even the quirky central ‘jazz’ section is confused and goes by in a bit of a blur. This poor unfortunate being inevitably ends up alone, screaming with pent up frustration in a perfect musical depiction of that celebrated Schiele painting.
In Quartet No. 14, Shostakovich seems to do the exact opposite by presenting the cello with a series of roles not necessarily typical of that instrument. The first and last movements are frivolous and enigmatic, our protagonist inhabiting a daydream world. It is in the middle movement that real life comes to call, but even here, in the glorious love duet with the 1st violin, the cello most unusually takes the upper line creating a particularly heartbreaking effect. Equally, even here, the music is heavily tinged with nostalgia.’
Elizabeth Wilson is the author of Shostakovich- A Life Remembered, considered by many to be the most vivid, informative and revealing biography of the composer. As a cellist, she studied in Moscow with Mstislav Rostropovich – during which time she encountered Shostakovich, and attended the premières of many of his later works. As a performer she has worked with such major composers as Arvo Part, Alfred Schnittke and James MacMillan, and as a biographer has also written of Jacqueline Du Pre and her teacher Rostropovich. Her most recent book, Playing with Fire, is devoted to the life and times of the maverick Soviet pianist Maria Yudina, friend and champion of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Stravinsky.