The Sorrels are a young all-female quartet early in their recording career.
They were founded in 1987. They have a well-received Britten quartet disc
to their credit and this is also on Chandos.
The present disc makes a promising overture to their quartet cycle. It is
to their credit (and that of Chandos) that they are not launching the n'th
Mozart or Schubert cycle. Although Shostakovich cycles are not exactly rare
they are still seen as outside the safe middle ground.
Their advocacy reflects a big-boned intensity which is evidenced in the 3rd
movement of No. 6. I am quite sure that the desperation of this music of
howling tocsins must have benefited from the coaching the young quartet received
from Rostislav Dubinsky. Dubinsky has been a staple of the Chandos catalogue
for some years now and as a founder member of the Borodin Quartet his influence
must be taken as authoritative. Intensity and concentration are here in plenty.
The Sixth Quartet's urbane Viennese and classical manner (written as a relaxation
after the very different rigours of the Fifth Symphony) is filtered through
the composer's usual harsh Russian winter clouds. Such is the lightness though
that on occasions Shostakovich seems to reach back to Prokofiev's Classical
Finally we come to Quartet No. 10 (dedicated to an unjustly neglected composer
- Moshei Vainberg). This explores the elusive dream territory of Shostakovich's
coolly enigmatic second violin concerto. The Adagio is rather approachable
catching the shadows and light of some Russian monastery. Certainly it has
a sense of being at emotional ease. The Quartet comes across in this music
as musical actors.
The drama is rounded off in a rather fine disc (by a finale whose rhythmic
life struts gamely from the same source as the finale of Shostakovich's second
glorious piano concerto. Good notes by Eric Roseberry.
Recording excellent. Recommended.