Shostakovich: Octet Pieces, Quartet No. 8 & Piano Quintet
"The first thing that strikes your ears at the beginning of the early (Op. 11) string octet is the strong emotion of their playing; the second thing is their use of rich string vibrato, nowadays considered to be virtually verboten in the classical music world regardless of the period of music you’re playing.
I was struck also by the much more Russian formality of this work, Despite some harmonic touches that would make you think of later Shostakovich, you’d scarcely recognize the composer from this piece—until you reach the second movement, the opening of which has Shostakovich’s fingerprints all over it. The combined Medici and Alberni Quartets play it with tremendous energy as well as precision...
Medici’s performance of the eighth string quartet is simply wonderful: deeply felt without incurring bathos and beautifully phrased. It makes you wonder what a complete cycle by this group would have sounded like. The second movement has a blistering intensity matched by few others, and the “Allegretto” scampers along with great felicity.
- Lynn Rene Bayley