Shostakovich, Bacewicz - Reflections - Dudok Quartet Amsterdam. © 2022 Rubicon Classics Ltd

CD Spotlight

Heartachingly Beautiful

GEOFF PEARCE is impressed by Dudok Quartet Amsterdam's performances of Shostakovich and Bacewicz

'... freshness and vitality ...'


This very fine disc is one well worth anyone's consideration. I had not heard of the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam before, but what a fine ensemble this is. The quartet presents works by Shostakovich and Grażyna Bacewicz, written in 1951-2, with a drive and vitality, and when required, a lyrical sensitivity that would make many other long established quartets envious.

The Shostakovich Fifth Quartet, in three movements, and at thirty minutes in length, is quite substantial. The first movement is often intense, and at times quite jaunty, often referencing Shostakovich's DSCH motif and quite sardonic, however there is also considerable respite. The second movement is mournful and reflective and requires great sensitivity to bring it off without bogging down in melancholy. It is heartachingly beautiful. The third movement is the most contrasting, starting tentatively, before a stormy and driven middle section, which at times, is quite terrifying in its ferocity, however after all this energy is dispelled, a calmer section ensures, and this eventually becomes a waltz, before melting away to reference the style of the second movement, and it ends serenely.

Listen — Shostakovich: Moderato - Allegretto - Andante (String Quartet No 5 in B flat)
(RCD1099 track 3, 4:59-5:52) ℗ 2022 Dudok Quartet :

The leader and cellist of the ensemble joined forces to arrange seven of the twenty-four preludes Op 34 of Shostakovich for the quartet. These seven selected preludes are contrasting, the arrangement is skilfully done and, like everything else on this disc, superbly presented. The recordings are clear, all parts can be heard, there is no muddying of the texture and the characterisations are very detailed.

Listen — Shostakovich: Prelude No 10 (24 Preludes Op 34)
(RCD1099 track 4, 0:27-0:59) ℗ 2022 Dudok Quartet :

The last work is the String Quartet No 4 by Grażyna Bacewicz, one of my favourite composers, a composer of the same generation as Shostakovich, and one who is gaining increasing attention. Back in the 1970s when I was a student, her works were seldom performed. I can remember one of my music professors, on hearing an LP of her Piano Quintets, describing her style as somewhat between Bartók and Shostakovich. The work on this recording, is, in my estimation, one of her best. It is in three movements. There are moments of sadness, lyrical and heartfelt moments, and some of a rather savage intensity. It was composed about the same time as the Shostakovich.

Listen — Grażyna Bacewicz: Andante (String Quartet No 4)
(RCD1099 track 12, 1:07-1:56) ℗ 2022 Dudok Quartet :

I am sure that most listeners will really enjoy the freshness and vitality this quartet brings to its playing. I hope to hear more.

Copyright © 13 December 2022 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia








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