This is the final installment in the Pacifica Quartet’s highly anticipated, and already highly acclaimed four-volume CD survey of the complete Shostakovich string quartets: The Soviet Experience: String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and his Contemporaries.
The Soviet Experience Volume IV features Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 13–15 from the 1970s. The Thirteenth Quartet’s one and only movement featuring extensive solo viola uses extended techniques uncommon for Russian composers at that time. The Fourteenth, composed in 1973 is a surprisingly upbeat work of 3 movements prominently featuring the cello. The Fifteenth is a meditation on mortality and one of Shostakovich’s longest quartets. These three quartets are paired with Schnittke’s allusive homage, String Quartet No. 3, written in 1983. It’s a work full of quotation including a 12-tone row transposed from a theme by Shostakovich, whose influence was felt throughout Schnittke’s career.