Technical flair can’t make up for a limited emotional range

Carducci Quartet: Shostakovich

The Strad Issue: May 2024

Description: Technical flair can’t make up for a limited emotional range

Musicians: Carducci Quartet

Works: Shostakovich: String Quartets: no.9, no.15

Catalogue number: SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD786

Brilliantly accurate and virtuosic presentation characterises the Carducci’s approach to both these works. I followed the performances with scores and these players don’t put a foot wrong. Tempos are astutely judged and the faster invention has a driving energy and potency. They delineate the Lassus-style part-writing in the first movement of no.15 with clarity, and have a sense of when the impact should feel tense and when it should be more relaxed.

However, the dry recording becomes something of a disadvantage, particularly in the slower movements which require more continuity of line and warmer resonance. Another snag is the slightly compressed dynamic range which reduces the potential for exploring a wider spectrum of emotions, especially in the constantly changing moods in the exhilarating finale of no.9. Ultimately, other recordings of these works – for example, the Jerusalem Quartet in the Ninth and the Keller Quartet in the 15th – probe more deeply behind the notes, creating performances of greater immediacy.