“Blithe ignorance of the future cataclysm” is the subtitle originally chosen by Shostakovich for the first movement of his “war quartet”, String Quartet no. 3 (1946), which he considered one of his finest works. The subtitle sets the tone for a composition that, nourished by popular folklore, appears to stage the inexorable confrontation of opposing forces. The same tension, the same razor’s-edge atmosphere is to be found in Beethoven’s Quartet op. 18, no. 4, and in Schubert’s unfinished Quartet, no. 12, generally known as the Quartettsatz.
The musicians of the David Oistrakh Quartet embrace the latent fury of these three works, without giving in to the maelstrom: the precision of their playing feeds a raw, electric expressiveness, magnified by an exceptional ensemble sound, taking the emotional power of this programme to great heights.