8th September 2008
The French independent label zig-Zag Territoires go from strength to strength – as do the winners of the London International String Quartet Competition, who display ‘beautiful burnished tone’ in a programme of Beethoven and Shostakovich.
For the Atrium Quartet, to couple Beethoven and Shostakovich seemed self-evident: in the realm of the string quartet, these composers dominated their respective eras, and both made an indelible mark on the history of the genre. They left a number of works with similar features; both men juxtapose strongly contrasted moods, shifting rapidly from violence to meditative inwardness, from insouciance to melancholy.
‘Moreover, it is well known that thirteen of Shostakovich’s fifteen quartets were premiered by the Beethoven Quartet, founded in Moscow in 1923. This formation had made a name for itself by performing the complete cycle of Beethoven quartets in 1927, for the commemoration of the centenary of the composer’s death. Because of the demise of its cellist, Sergey Shirinsky, it was unable to give the premiere of Shostakovich’s String Quartet no.15, which was entrusted to the Taneyev Quartet – whose cellist Joseph Levinson subsequently became the mentor of the Atrium Quartet. So, a Beethoven-Shostakovich coupling? Self-evident, no doubt about it. ’ Hélène Cao
The ATRIUM STRING QUARTET is the first Quartet from Russia which has won the two most important International Competitions for String Quartets. They first rose to international prominence in April 2003 when they won the First Prize and the Audience Prize in the London International String Quartet Competition which was held at the prestigious Wigmore Hall, when they made their debut on BBC Radio 3 with a performance of the Fifth String Quartet of Shostakovich.