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BBC Radio 3 CD Review

BBC Radio 3 CD review, 6 May 2006

Text of broadcast review:

If you remember the great Borodin Quartet’s visits to the UK to play Shostakovich in the 1980s, and the recordings they made at the time, then you can’t fail to have been bowled over by the skills of their first violinist, Mikhail Kopelman.  He left the Borodins after some twenty years, and for the last four he has had his own string quartet, which includes two founder members of the Moscow Quartet, who worked with Shostakovich on his late quartets.  I am automatically very interested in anything the Kopelman Quartet has to say about Shostakovich

[plays no 3}

“The forces of war unleashed”, according to the manuscript of Shostakovich’s string quartet no 3  - that was the title he gave to the 3rd movement, which was the movement you have just heard played with almost orchestral weight and percussive crunch by the Kopelman Quartet, led by Mikhail Kopelman, formerly of the Borodins.  Big musical personalities, huge sounds.  You would probably guess they were all graduates of the Moscow Conservatoire in the 1970s.  Kopelman has lost none of the piercing yet beautifully accurate sound that can still take your breath away, and after that war-like work there is the comparative delicacy and ghostly effects of Shostakovich’s 7th quartet from 1960,  in memory of his first wife.   Prokofiev’s 2nd string quartet brings up the rear, another war-time work, from 1942, threaded through with folk music and dance rhythms, all of which feel as though they are getting authentically accented by this Russian quartet.