Vainberg: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 10; String Quartet No. 17

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COMPOSERS: Vainberg
LABELS: Olympia
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 10; String Quartet No. 17
PERFORMER: Gothenburg Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: OCD 628
Son of a poor violinist from Warsaw’s Jewish Theatre, Mieczyslaw (Moishei) Vainberg (1919-96) settled in Moscow in 1943 when Shostakovich interceded on his behalf, persuading the authorities to issue a coveted ‘official’ invitation for his friend and colleague. Vainberg remained in Russia until his death. Prolific yet novel, Vainberg wrote 17 string quartets across a fifty-year creative period. Numbers 1, 10 and 17 (the latter most heavily influenced by Shostakovich) receive premiere recordings from the newly formed Gothenburg Quartet, which charts its way through this sometimes unforgiving territory with considerable skill. Vainberg’s dramatic, modernist style is challenging, but these dedicated, passionately sympathetic accounts do belated credit to these works, previously unheard outside Russia. Engineering, however, is average at best. Michael Jameson

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