String Quartet No 9 in E flat major Op. 117

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)
Share :


Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)

Performance date: 01/07/2017

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1964

Duration: 00:25:19

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson [violins], Masumi Per Rostad [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]) - [quartet]

Supinskaya was introduced to Shostakovich by Lev Lebedinsky on the
stairs at the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. She was almost
exactly half his age, an orphan whose father had
from the Personality Cult and infringement of revolutionary law

as Shostakovich put it. Her grandparents perished during the siege of
Leningrad and she had been evacuated across the Lake Lagoda. She had
also spent time in an orphanage that housed so-called
of the people
They were married in November 1962 and after that he never went
anywhere without her. She quickly organised his chaotic household and
provided him with domestic comfort and stability and played a
purifying and resurrective role for him for the rest of his life. In
the opinion of Galina Vishnevskaya she created the ideal atmosphere
for his work and prolonged his life by several years.

first version of this quartet was written in the autumn of 1961, but,
as the composer wry ly put it

in an attack of healthy self-criticism, I burnt it in the stove.

The second version took nearly another three years and was
immediately followed by the Tenth Quartet in July and the two were
premiered together. In 1964 the first changes in the Beethoven
Quartet took place, the viola player Vadim Borisovsky retired on
account of illness and was replaced by Fyodor Druzhinin, who had an
extraordinary baptism of fire with this quartet, sight-reading it
with the composer at his elbow.

five movements are played without a break, though the transition from
one movement to the next is unequivocally signalled. The opening is
quietly mysterious with the wisp of a theme sidling in over a
murmuring accompaniment. The second idea is much more rhythmical,
driven forward by stinging pizzicatos. The two ideas are allowed to
fade in and out of each other until you start to wonder where you
are; and immediately the advent of the first Adagio is signalled by a
little series of pizzicatos. This serene movement rises to hymn-like
passages of disembodied beauty, the absence of pulse giving it the
ephemeral quality of a dream. When the music seemingly drifts to a
halt, a brief and banal little motif emerges, is repeated and
suddenly transformed into the Scherzo, where it dances and leaps in
wild contortions. This delicious slipping from the sublime to the
absurd and indeed back again is typical of the composer’s highly
developed sense of the ridiculous. The second Largo appears to
continue where the first one left off but is subjected to rude,
almost brutal, interruptions, the second one leading to an
impassioned operatic recitative before the dream slowly fades away.
There is no link to the final Allegro, which bursts in
unceremoniously. The initial outburst builds up impressively before
simplifying to a crude march. This is gradually overtaken by more
complications including a
and a
fugue and another wild recitative over a melodramatic tremolo
accompaniment. After this series of internal quotations is concluded
the work settles down to a hard driven finish, which leave us
breathless several bars ahead of the musicians.