Shostakovich: the Complete String Quartets
Dmitri Shostakovich’s body of work isn’t just one of the most treasured oeuvres in classical music—it also tells a secret story of the Russian composer’s hot-and-cold relationship with the Soviet regime. Shostakovich worked under the watchful eye of Stalin’s Communist Party, which demanded work furthering the socialist revolution, although he sometimes failed to meet that demand, risking blacklisting, imprisonment, or worse. After the composer was denounced for his allegedly counterrevolutionary opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 1934, his symphonies became markedly more orthodox.Chamber music, however, being less prominent, permitted him freer rein to explore darker, more experimental concepts. Work such as his 15 string quartets—which Israeli ensemble Jerusalem Quartet, presented by Friends of Chamber Music, will perform over four evenings this month—offers a glimpse of what the composer might have sounded like in a less repressive place and time.