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date: 16 October 2019

Beethoven Quartetlocked

  • Tully Potter

Extract

Russian string ensemble, founded in 1923 as the Moscow Conservatory Quartet by Dmitry Tsïganov, Vasily Shirinsky, Vadim Borisovsky and Sergey Shirinsky. In 1927 the group presented its first Beethoven cycle for the composer's centenary; and after another successful cycle in 1931 it took the name by which it became known throughout the world. It gave the first performance of Myaskovsky’s quartets from no.4 onwards. Its members taught with distinction at the Moscow Conservatory and were all well known in their own right – Vasily Shirinsky was a noted musicologist. In 1940 the Beethoven Quartet began a collaboration with Shostakovich which resulted in its giving the premières of almost all his major chamber compositions; a number of his quartets were dedicated to the ensemble or its individual members. The ‘Beethoveners’ appeared in concert with many celebrated colleagues but in the West were known mainly by their recordings which, apart from Shostakovich’s works, included quartets and quintets by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms. Glière, Taneyev, Myaskovsky and Prokofiev. Their style of playing, though underpinned by considerable virtuosity, was more direct and unvarnished than that of the contemporary Komitas Quartet or the younger Borodin Quartet; and even on record they achieved interpretations of the utmost intensity and profundity. In ...

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