Wednesday 21 May 2014

Preparing to record!

Very shortly we will be making our first Shostakovich recording for Signum Classics, with a view to releasing it later this year, just before 'Shostakovich 15' begins! We have chosen to record his Fourth, Eighth and Eleventh quartets, three very different works, which show a great range of emotion and style. Recording is always an exciting and rewarding process. It can be challenging in this environment to replicate the energy and adrenalin of a live performance and, particularly for music as emotionally charged as Shostakovich's, we must consistently deliver a fully committed performance, no matter what take it is! An interesting area of discussion is that of Shostakovich's metronome marks (this is a topic that probably warrants its own post)! For example, in the third movement of the Fourth Quartet, the metronome mark is crotchet = 120. This seems quite slow and at odds with the character of the music. On listening to recordings of the Beethoven and Borodin quartets, who worked extensively with Shostakovich, we discovered that they played this movement significantly faster, also using a "William Tell" like ricochet bow stroke, which wouldn't be feasible at such a slow tempo as 120. There are anecdotal references to Shostakovich admitting that his metronome was broken, yet the appearance of a number on the page seems somewhat non-negotiable! It is a conundrum but ultimately we must try to follow the character of the music, wherever that takes us. An exciting challenge awaits...  

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