Friday, July 9, 2010

Shostakovich String Quartet Number 8 - 1st and 2nd Movements

This music is Dark. Angry, and jagged. I am going to say outright that you should listen to the whole quartet - from beginning to end, sitting in the dark with the music playing loudly over your speaker system, as even though there are separate movements, this is really one large piece broken into segments.

If, however you do not have the attention span to sit through 40 odd minutes of Shostakovich, then PLEASE do yourself a huge favor and listen to the first two movements.

This piece is angst-ridden, and is a fantastic example of the power that can be drawn from a string quartet. I believe that the power available from a string quartet is greater than that that one can obtain from an entire symphony orchestra. Today I am sitting in Melbourne, just about to go out and do some street performance and the weather is windy and dark. This piece seems perfectly appropriate.

Pay Attention to:
- The snap into the second movement. The first movement is gentle and reflective and it is truly shocking when the angular fast second movement begins.
-The introduction of the soaring melody half way through the second movement. The violin sails across the sea of the other instruments and transcends the tension of the other instruments.
-The incredible cello lines. Just WOW

Why you should be listening to this right now:
I have two separate versions of this string quartet on my laptop, a Famous Kronos Quartet version that is paired with Black Angels (and I think the Kronos recordning of Black angels is the Definitive Recording), and also a lovely recording by the Brodsky Quartet.
The Brodsky version is a much more sensitive recording, however today I am listening to the Kronos version as it is harsher and suits the mood I am in.

Listen to this piece because it is wonderfully dark, without being hedonistically so.

This piece goes well with:
Black Angels, (the cd is good fun to listen right through), Also some of the other Shostakovich string quartets, like the 7th. Also maybe some Prokofiev piano pieces, the toccata for example.

I have attached the Kronos version, however a few different versions are worth listening to.

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