Shostakovich is thirty-two when in 1938 he starts to write his first string quartet. Right in the middle of the great purges, at a time when the composer had just made amends with a Fifth Symphony which he presented as "an effort towards intelligibility and simplicity," this quartet, a sort of divertimento in the style of Haydn, is striking because of its classical structure. The third Quartet dates from 1946, just after the war, whereas the seventh was written in 1960 when the composer, already sick and weak, let himself be convinced into joining the Communist Party, under the nevertheless more clement rein of Khrushchev.
Arditti String Quartet
London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Groves (conductor), Bruno Rigutto, Vasso Devetzi (piano)