Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids


Best Recordings of 2013 (#7)

High time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2013. My lists for the previous years: 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 7 - New Release

Dimitri Shostakovich, Complete String Quartets v.3, String Quartets 9-12, Pacifica Quartet, Cedille 138

available at Amazon
D.Shostakovich, Complete String Quartets v.3
(String Quartets 9-12)
Pacifica Quartet

There’s no shortage of superb Shostakovich String Quartet cycles. On SACD, pristine, borderline anodyne, the Mandelring Quartet (Audite) is a great complement to the classic Borodin cycle (Melodiya), as is the Danel Quartet (fuga libera).

But for excitement and ingenuity, the Pacifica Quartet is hurtling toward the pole position. In their combination of ferocious attack, grit, and accuracy—but also a strong lyrical strain—they are only rivaled by the Jerusalem Quartet, who bring out—or so my imagination hears it—a bit more Russian flavor and irony in their two discs on Harmonia Mundi. The kicker is the Pacifica’s ingenious coupling with DSCH-contemporary quartets —Weinberg’s Sixth String Quartet in volume 3, Prokofiev and Myaskovsky previously.

# 7 – Reissue

Felix Mendelssohn-B., Complete String Quartets, Talich Quartet, La Dolce Volta 115

available at Amazon
F.Mendelssohn-B., Complete String Quartets
Talich Quartet
La Dolce Volta 115

With La Dolce Volta, the re-issues don’t just look like treasure boxes in silver and pink, they also contain treasures. Namely the best from the wonderful Calliope label, in this case the complete Mendelssohn Quartets in the Talich Quartet interpretations. They were my favorites when they came out between 2000 and 2003, and although the Mendelssohn-Quartet-Competition has increased exponentially in the years since (Mandelring, Pacifica, Eroica, Leipzig, to name just the best), the combination of old-world charisma, elegance, saturation, and vibrancy makes the Czech outfit around Jan Talich jr. my continued frontrunner in what includes some of Mendelssohn’s finest, most profound musical statements.

-> Best Recordings of 2013 #10
-> Best Recordings of 2013 #9
-> Best Recordings of 2013 #8