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Jens F. Laurson
Ionarts, January 2014

Best Recordings of 2013: #7 - New Release

There’s no shortage of superb Shostakovich String Quartet cycles.

But for excitement and ingenuity, the Pacifica Quartet is hurtling toward the pole position…in their combination of ferocious attack, grit, and accuracy… © 2014 Ionarts Read complete review

Vivien Schweitzer
The New York Times, December 2013

Critics’ Favorite Classical Recordings of 2013

The Pacifica Quartet finished its survey of the complete works of Shostakovich this year, offering haunting, emotionally intense and red-hot interpretations. The group’s searing performances of the Quartets Nos 9 to 12 are paired with the Quartet No 6 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, for whom Shostakovich was a close friend and mentor. © 2013 The New York Times

Audiophilia, December 2013

Audiophilia Star Recordings of the Year 2013

The staff of Audiophilia listened to hundreds of new recordings this year and published reviews of almost sixty in RNR and as standalone reviews. Some recordings nominated were not reviewed, but were in heavy rotation as review repertoire. The staff whittled the many nominations down to fifteen we thought worthy of our Star moniker. There were so many incredible recordings this year.

Congratulations to all the nominees and a special congratulations to the fifteen winners.

The Soviet Experience, Vol. 3 -String Quartets by Shostakovich and Contemporaries Cedille Records
Nominated by Andy Fawcett. © 2013 Audiophilia

Maria Nockin
Fanfare, November 2013

Although there are comparable renditions of this music, the versions by Pacifica burst with dramatic expression and make very compelling listening. © 2013 Fanfare

Julian Haylock
The Strad, August 2013

…the Pacifica…plays with a post-Romantic sensitivity that emphasises the music’s deep roots in the 19th-century Russian tradition as well as its bewilderment at the callousness of the Soviet regime. © 2013 The Strad Read complete review

Ivan March
Gramophone, August 2013

The latest instalment, the bulk of which is taken up with Shostakovich’s Quartets Nos 9-12, is well up to standard with intensely concentrated playing, first-class ensemble, a strikingly wide range of dynamic and a remarkably consistent depth of feeling. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, August 2013

This Shostakovich cycle is turning out to be one of the most riveting of recent years, as the Pacificas demonstrate strong empathy with the contrasting emotional narratives of each work and probe well beneath the surface simplicity of some of the writing. © 2013 BBC Music Magazine

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, July 2013

…the ‘Soviet Arts Experience’ is an extensive collaborative project uniting a number of Chicago arts institutions.

One can only imagine the amount of study and preparation necessary for this project from the Pacifica members who provide intelligent and penetrating accounts in very good sound.

The excellence of this series makes this the finest collection available of the complete Shostakovich string quartets. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2013

The Pacifica Quartet really shines here. Technical control is awesome, as you’d expect, but all of the wildness and creepiness of the music is captured in riveting detail…

There’s no question…that this Volume 3 of the Pacifica Quartet’s Shostakovich cycle receives my very enthusiastic recommendation. If you care about Shostakovich’s string quartets, I’d advise you not to be without it. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, July 2013

The playing is often fierce but always controlled, and the music’s emotions, when they take sudden turns to the left or to the right, are keenly followed by the [Pacifica Quartet], who never lose concentration or a sense of where the music is headed.

This series has been notable for its intelligent and helpful booklet essays, and this one, written by David Fanning, is another fine specimen. The excellent engineering is one more reason to give this disc a strong recommendation. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, July 2013

Volume III of the Pacifica Quartet’s series called The Soviet Experience is here…it also has four of Shostakovich’s quartets along with one of his contemporaries’. The Pacifica’s approach is smooth and Westernized…

They have a knack for grasping the moods of the quartets and communicating them convincingly.

[Weinberg]’s hefty quartet is given a very musical reading…It’s a good introduction to [Weinberg]’s music, solidly built, with plenty of worthwhile themes. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Hurwitz, July 2013

This is the third volume in Cedille’s ongoing series of Shostakovich quartets, enriched by additional works by the composer’s Soviet colleagues, and like the two previous releases it is a triumph.

…the Pacifica Quartet’s performances are as good as any. …this is great quartet playing. …the Pacifica never loses its sense of direction and feeling for the musical line…

Also in keeping with previous releases, the sonics are marvelously lifelike, well-balanced, and warm. © Read complete review

Joe Milicia
Enjoy the Music, July 2013

The third installment of Cedille’s Shostakovich series with the Pacifica Quartet offers us what we have come to expect: revelatory performances of Shostakovich quartets in superb sound…

The Pacifica Quartet once again prove to be compelling interpreters, with their warmth of tone and alertness to drops and rises of emotional temperature, as well as to the quartets’ internal dramas of solo players striking out from the ensemble…and becoming re-absorbed in the whole.

As with the previous discs in the series…the Pacifica Quartet is given rich sound with each voice distinctively placed and yet effectively blended. © 2013 Enjoy the Music Read complete review

David Weininger
The Boston Globe, July 2013

The Pacifica brilliantly captures all the unnerving aspects of this music. In fact, their grasp of the music seems to grow more confident the more challenging the music becomes; I’ve never heard a more complete grasp of the Twelfth Quartet in particular.

The companion piece in this set is the Sixth Quartet of Polish-born composer Mieczslaw Weinberg…It’s a fascinating piece and a superb choice for this series, and the Pacifica’s performance is as masterful as in the Shostakovich. © 2013 The Boston Globe

Robert Moon
Audiophile Audition, June 2013

The previous two releases in this series have been superb, and this release continues the high level of recording and performing excellence that makes the Pacifica Quartet’s renditions of Shostakovich’s quartets one of the best available today.

The Pacifica Quartet plays these works like the symphonic quartets they are: emotionally expressive, brilliantly executed with a wide, close but reverberant soundstage that communicates the feelings in the music. I can’t wait for their final installation in this series. © Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Terry Robbins
The WholeNote, June 2013

The Pacifica Quartet is once again in simply superb form, playing these intensely personal works with sensitivity and passion and a wonderfully expressive range of dynamics. © 2013 The WholeNote Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, April 2013

The third volume of [the Pacifica Quartet’s] expansive treatment of Shostakovich and selected contemporaries, The Soviet Experience…continues the high levels of idiomatic brilliance of the previous volumes.

These are masterpieces, played with passion, precision and a special knack for bringing out thematic highlights while still maintaining the contrapuntal complexities that make these works so attractive and vigorously bracing.

…the Pacifica Quartet has done something seminal on this set. I believe there is one volume remaining? I will anticipate myself by asserting in advance that this will be the set of Shostakovich quartets to have. © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Andy Fawcett
Audiophilia, April 2013

…Shostakovich’s cycle…are angular, sometimes atonal, dark, intense, restless and challenging works; their structures elusive, the ensemble often reduced to sparse textures and solo voices. To be honest, they have found little favour with me previously but, when played as supremely well as they are here, those same qualities start to exert a mesmerising emotional grip on the listener. Equally responsible, perhaps, is a truly superb recording…that amply sustains Cedille’s vaunted reputation. The Pacifica Quartet’s performances on the series’ prior releases have been hailed as definitive and their playing really is a thing of almost supernatural wonder… © 2013 Audiophilia Read complete review

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