Shostakovich - String Quartets 2&4 (2007)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Candida Thompson

String quartet nr. 2 in A On 2 September 1944, Shostakovich wrote the last note of his second string quartet in a country house near Ivanovo. Two months later, the Beethoven-quartet played the première. The second string quartet was created after the famous second piano trio and was written at a terrific pace. Shostakovich dedicated this work to his good friend Vissarion Shebalin, the director of the Moscow Conservatory at that time. Like his great example Beethoven, Shostakovich did not publish his first string quartet until he was thirty. In the preceding years, he thoroughly studied the string quartets by Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. According to his students, he could effortlessly quote from this classic literature. The piece opens with an energetic Ouverture that in its form and counterpoint has been entirely fashioned after the forementioned classic examples. This quartet is primarily exceptional because of the longest and slow movement of the piece. The movement consists of a Romance enclosed by two recitatives. These long and grievous episodes of the solo violin in recitative form are accompanied by static, low chords. One can directly associate this movement with sacred music, in which the recitative technique is so common. In the Waltz, a soft legato theme develops, first in the celli and later in the violins, over a waltz pattern to a turbulent percussion part full of changes of pace. The movement concludes in pianissimo with the return to a clear three-four time in which the altos ‘turn off the light’. The last movement, Theme with variations, starts from an adagio. Per variation, both the tempo and the drama increase. The theme ultimately simmers down in an adagio in E flat. String quartet nr. 4 in D In 1949 Shostakovich finished his fourth string quartet, although the première of this piece was not heard until 1953. In the years after the war the government got increasingly involved in the cultural world....

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Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Amsterdam Sinfonietta is an ensemble of 22 gifted musicians who perform under the direction of Candida Thompson, artistic director|lead violin since 2003. The ensemble’s defining feature is the strong involvement and artistic drive of each individual member. The group has gained a reputation for distinguished, performances and innovative programming, often featuring surprising combinations of works. It collaborates with renowned artists and performs in major venues around throughout the world.

Founded in 1988 Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a highly respected ensemble with strong roots in the Dutch cultural scene. Every season it presents a series of concerts in the major concert halls of the The Netherlands. The orchestra boasts a young and loyal audience. Amsterdam Sinfonietta performs ingenious programmes featuring well-known repertoire combined with commissions, new arrangements or rarely performed works. Recent commissions include world premières of compositions by Sofia Gubaidulina, HK Gruber, Michel van der Aa and P?teris Vasks. Over the past seasons Amsterdam Sinfonietta has initiated and recorded new arrangements of various chamber music works. These include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schulhoff, Haas, Shostakovich and Berg.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta enjoys intensive collaborations with pre-eminent musicians. Guest artists such as Janine Jansen, David Fray, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Barbara Hannigan, Maxim Vengerov, Thomas Hampson, Sergey Khachatryan, Christianne Stotijn, Håkan Hardenberger, Martin Fröst, Julian Rachlin, Sol Gabetta, James Gilchrist, Natalia Gutman and Isabelle van Keulen have made return appearances with the orchestra.

Recently the ensemble toured China performing concerts with cellist Pieter Wispelwey. The group also performed spectacular performances with solo cellist Sol Gabetta at the Barbican in London, the Philharmonie in Luxemburg, Bozar in Brussels, the Musikhalle in Hamburg and the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The latest tour through Germany and Belgium with the French pianist David Fray was a resouding success culminating in ecstatic reviews. Following concerts in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf and the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: ’For the chamber orchestra Amsterdam Sinfonietta, performing under the direction of Candida Thompson, the keyword is alertness. The 22 string players […] communicate with each other in a state of heightened awareness. Each player listens attentively to the others, to the counter lines and tonal colours. […] The result sounded fresh and modern – simply brilliant.’ The group has been a guest at many international festivals including the Adelaide Festival, Gergiev Festival, Schleswig Holstein Festival and La Roque d’Antheron and also appears regularly at the Holland Festival and in the Robeco Summer Series and Carte Blanche Series in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Every year the ensemble shows its versatility with a New Year’s programme that transcends the bounds of a conventional concert. This New Year’s programme has become a tradition attracting new and diverse audiences in many national venues. Joining forces with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Roby Lakatos, and Chick Corea has resulted in intriguing on-stage chemistry and compelling concerts. The orchestra also participates in multidisciplinary projects. Together with the Dutch-Italian choreographers Emio Greco & PC, the ensemble presented a theatrical production featuring a contemporary collage of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has also worked with the actor Jeroen Willems and stage director Pierre Audi in a programme centred on Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite. Upcoming projects include a Dessner-Greenwood double portrait featuring recent compositions by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame and Bryce and Aaron Dessner from the successful rock band The National. Other future projects include collaborations with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, baritone Thomas Hampson and clarinettist Martin Fröst and tours of Germany, Russia and China.

Candida Thompson

Candida Thompson artistic director and leader 

Candida Thompson studied with DavidTakeno at the Guildhall School of Music andDrama, where she received her soloist's graduationdiploma with honour. She developedher qualities further at the Banff Centre for theArts in Canada and played with several internationalorchestras such as Moskov ChamberOrchestra, The English String Orchestra,Wiener Symphoniker, the Netherland RadioChamber Orchestra and AmsterdamSinfonietta. Candida Thompson has been aregular guest artist at La Musica chambermusic festival in Florida. She also participatedat chamber music festivals like the KuhmoChamber Music Festival (Finland) and theGubbio Festival (Italy). In the past yearsCandida performed with artists such as BrunoGuiranna, Joseph Silverstein, Isabelle Faust,Janine Jansen. Together with cellist XeniaJankovic and pianist Paolo Giacometti sheformed the Hamlet trio. Candida Thompsonwas appointed Amsterdam Sinfonietta's artisticdirector and lead violin in the summer of2003. Under her leadership AmsterdamSinfonietta has made successful tours ofAustralia, the United States, China, Spain,Italy and Germany and has recorded a numberof highly acclaimed CD recordings.
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Shostakovich - String Quartets 2&4 (2007)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta


Cette perfection de forme n'est pas sans rappeler Haydn en ses Op. 64 et 76 ». Conduit par Candida Thompson, l'Amsterdam Sinfonietta subjugue littéralement par un jeu à la fois subtil et profond. Avec des phrasés amples au legato idéal, la vision est alors bouleversante et laisse l'auditeur entre rêve et envoûtement. Un enregistrement essentiel dans une prise de son en pur DSD remarquable.

    Sächsische Zeitung

Mit ja zwanzig Streichern bringt Dirigentin Candida Thomson diese beiden dunklen Brillanten von 1944 und 1949 führwahr unheimlich zum Funkeln. Shostakowitsch hat mit diesen Werken eine faszinierende Brücke von der Klassik in die Moderne geschlagen.

the disc impressed all ears that heard it and the reference quality surround sound on the hybrid SACD had much to do with it. For Shostakovich fans with SACD-players and surround sound set-up, this is going to be a very attractive release.

    Klassieke Zaken

de gloed van het orkest is onontkoombaar indringend, de ritmische precisie is van een kamermuzikale exactheid en de contrasten in dynamische inzicht zijn uitnemend. (...) (...) Shostakovitch hoeft zich voor deze bewerking niet in zijn graf om te draaien. Misschien kan hij vanuit zijn kille woonst bij de Allerhoogste pleiten voor een Edison.


the playing here is indeed sterling…The recording is outstanding, with the surround Super Audio providing a very warm and enveloping arena for these strings, and really has no competition on the market. It has, at least for a moment, changed my mind about this process of enlarging the supposedly un-enlargeable. (…)

    Classics Today -

This is an amazing disc in every respect. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta plays with such incredible unanimity of ensemble, but at the same time with such natural flexibility of pulse, that you miss absolutely none of the intimacy of the quartet originals. Significantly, the transcription of the Fourth quartet does not, as in Barshai's version, add winds and percussion. Both arrangements here were made by bass player Marijn van Prooijen, and perhaps this accounts for his sensitive handling of his own instrument--used only to add depth of sonority in a way that never overburdens the basic texture. The engineering lets you hear every detail with utter naturalness in all formats, multichannel or normal stereo. Indeed, purely on the basis of sonics, this is one of the most perfect recordings of anything that I have ever heard. Even if you don't think you like Shostakovich's quartets, you may find yourself entranced by these flawlessly polished, emotionally gripping interpretations. Miraculous! 10/10 (...)

    Audiophile Audition -

This disc is an absolute delight from start to finish, and I a triumph on every level. The performances are exceptional and the recording is superb, setting a new reference for this literature. If you are a fan of the music of Shostakovich, this disc is a no-brainer and not to be missed. - 5 Stars*****

Shostakovich - String Quartets 2&4 (2007)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm A/D DSD / Meitner DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom design
Producer: Sven Arne Tepl
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Amsterdam, Leiden 2007
Recording Software: Pyramix bij Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland

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26007: Shostakovich - String Quartets 2&4
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String Quartet No. 4 In D-Major Op. 83 - Allegretto
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String Quartet No. 4 In D-Major Op. 83 - Andantino
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String Quartet No. 4 In D-Major Op. 83 - Allegretto
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String Quartet No. 4 In D-Major Op. 83 - Allegretto
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String Quartet No. 2 In A-Major Op. 68 - Overture (Moderato Con Moto)
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String Quartet No. 2 In A-Major Op. 68 - Recitative And Romance (Adiagio)
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String Quartet No. 2 In A-Major Op. 68 - Waltz (Allegro)
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String Quartet No. 2 In A-Major Op. 68 - Theme With Variations (Adagio)
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