This time, quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich - and one by a fascinating if little known composer by the name of German Galynin.
Beethoven and Shostakovich are two composers with much in common - but also many differences, explained cellist Vladimir Balshin to DW in an interview for DW: "It's a difference in mentality. Beethoven, socialized in a European Catholic tradition, is a child of Western culture through and through. Even when his music sounds completely tragic and sad, he remains optimistic deep inside. That makes him principally different from Shostakovich, a thoroughly Soviet man. Even the most cheerful passages in Shostakovich have a pessimistic aftertaste. And his blackness is a deep, despairing, hopeless blackness. That is what he sought to convey."
Another tragic figure in Russian music is German Galynin, who grew up in an orphanage in the 1920's. At age nineteen and a student at the Moscow Conservatory, he volunteered for service in World War II. Ten years later, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spend the last years of his short life in an asylum. He died in 1966. But during that short life, Galynin was considered a great talent.
Dmitri Shostakovisch's fourteenth string quartet is considered a relatively cheerful work. He wrote most of it in 1973 in Aldeburgh, England, as a guest of the composer Benjamin Britten. He dedicated the quartet to a good friend, Sergei Shirinski, then the cellist in the Borodin Quartet. Shostakovisch's music has many codes and hidden messages. Here, for example, he quotes a theme in the aria "Sergei my dear man" from his opera “Lady Macbeth of Mzensk” - referring this time not to the opera's protagonist but to Sergei Shirinski. At the end, with a sense of restless anticipation, the cello soars above the other three instruments. This quartet has in fact been described as an "ode to the cello."
Wrapping up our own three-year encounter with the Borodin Quartet, we'll hear their take on the final movement of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 11.
German Galynin (1922-1966)
String Quartet No. 2 in F Minor
Recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in La Redoute, Bonn on September 9, 2014
Dmitri Shostakovisch (1906-1975)
String Quartet No. 14 in F-sharp Major, op. 142
Recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in the City Museum, Siegburg on September 11, 2014
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, op. 98, finale
Recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW)in La Redoute, Bonn, on September 9, 2014
Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before January 18, 2016