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COMPOSERS: Myaskovsky,Shostakovich
LABELS: Nimbus
ALBUM TITLE: Myaskovsky,Shostakovich
WORKS: Myaskovsky: String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 86; Shostakovich
String Quartets: No. 1 in C, Op. 49; No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110
PERFORMER: Kopelman Quartet


Here’s another fine link with the great Russian tradition. Mikhail Kopelman, first violinist of the Borodin Quartet for 20 years, is the most familiar name here, but all four players went on to distinguished careers after graduating from the Moscow Conservatoire in the musically heady 1970s prior to forming the Kopelman Quartet in 2002. Beauty and warmth of string tone seem to be paramount, and that helps us to buy into the old-fashioned yet utterly sincere Romanticism of Myaskovsky’s last quartet. Shostakovich, with whom former Moscow Quartet members Boris Kuschnir and Igor Sulyga worked towards the end of the composer’s life, is a different matter, and these two most famous of his quartets stand at opposite extremes. A little more Haydnesque lightness in No. 1 would help to make the sudden sourings more surprising, and there are now younger quartets around – chiefly the astonishing Jerusalems – who make the Eighth seem more of an adventure. Here, as elsewhere, the Kopelmans’ dynamics rarely fall lower than what allows the players to express a full-bodied tone, and I’ve heard more stilling accounts of the fourth-movement elegy, with greater pathos for the ray of light Shostakovich borrows from his Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Yet the Allegro molto has appropriate bite. This team’s burnished musicianship is honourably served by the spacious but ever-present Monmouth recording. David Nice