A young award-winning quartet on characterful form

Dudok Quartet: Reflections

The Strad Issue: January 2023

Description: A young award-winning quartet on characterful form

Musicians: Dudok Quartet

Works: Bacewicz: String Quartet no.4. Shostakovich: String Quartet no.5 in B flat major op.92; Seven Preludes from op.34 (arr. Judith van Driel and David Faber)

Catalogue number: RUBICON RCD1099

After the somewhat grim opening of Shostakovich’s Fifth Quartet, the Dudok Quartet brings a charming naivety and swaying lilt to the G major tune. The playing is forceful but always clear, and the viola and cello spar splendidly in the heights. In the slow threnody of the Andante the balance between instruments is meticulously realised, paying close attention to Shostakovich’s dynamic distinctions, with sweet-toned simplicity in the Andantino section. The third movement, finely paced, builds inexorably to its central climax.

The first movement of Grażyna Bacewicz’s Fourth String Quartet has moments of sadness, played with touching intimacy, but there is fierceness as well, with the Dudok players biting into the strings and driving forwards. Bacewicz slithers in semitones through the gentle, caressing opening of the central Andante; here, the musicians keep a steady pace and clear narrative line through the variety of melodic material and shifting, sometimes uneasy, textures. They find light-hearted good humour in the spiky, lopsided dances of the finale, full of off-centre accents, before entering a more mysterious world at its centre, with flowing triplets, not quite an ostinato, in the second violin. The arrangements made by the Dudok’s leader and cellist of seven of Shostakovich’s Piano Preludes op.34 are well done and convincingly played. The recording has clarity and just the right amount of warmth.