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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, July 2014

With its fine performances and excellent production values—notes, visuals, and sound—it should take its place on the collector’s shelf… © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, May 2014

…for playing of arresting graphic detail, the Pacifica wins hands-down.

This is a Shostakovich cycle for the ages. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, May 2014

Here…is the final volume of the Pacifica Quartet’s Shostakovich cycle, and, in a word, the performances are superlative…in terms of fine timbral control, precision of gesture…dynamic shaping…ensemble, and vertical balance…these…performances meet the high standards of their predecessors. Still, even in the context of this consistent excellence, there’s something special about this release, for beyond their grasp of Shostakovich’s idiom in general, these four players have a special…virtue that makes them especially adept in the often spare and enigmatic last quartets.

If you’re just beginning to explore this repertoire, this is the place to start—and if you’ve already got this music in your collection, this is an ideal way to expand your vision. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, May 2014

…the engineering is superb. Anyone who cares about Shostakovich’s string quartets should not miss the Pacifica Quartet’s recordings, now completed with this release. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

David Hurwitz, April 2014

…the individual movements are highly contrasted, and they are particularly strongly characterized in this performance. The result may not be uplifting, but it is very moving and, in its way, satisfying.

The engineering in all of these issues has been of demonstration quality, giving the players the opportunity to dazzle with their excellent intonation and perfect ensemble balances. There are many fine Shostakovich quartet cycles available, but none finer than this, and none more intelligently planned and programmed. I will return to these performances often, and so will you. © 2014 Read complete review

Tim Homfray
The Strad, April 2014

This volume completes the Pacifica’s cycle of Shostakovich quartets. It opens with a clear, searching exposition of the dark 13th Quartet, superbly paced, inexorable, with a tonal range austere at one extreme and genuinely violent at the other.

…the 14th Quartet was dedicated to cellist Sergei Shirinsky, and the Pacifica cellist Brandon Vamos also distinguishes himself. The faux-naiveté of the first movement is expressed in crisp, jaunty playing, jolly and dry. The long threads of the central Adagio are beautifully woven together, while the last contains, inter alia, a great piece of teamwork in the passing of quaver fragments between players to form a continuous line.

In the broad and almost static landscape of the Elegy that opens the 15th Quartet the playing is masterly, keeping shape and purpose. The vehement outbursts of the Serenade are startling, but Vamos plays his serenader’s melody with insouciance as the emotional temperature shifts once again. The sudden violent heat that opens the Funeral March is fuelled by strong vibrato (the variety and subtlety of vibrato is a feature of all the playing here, its effectiveness enhanced by the recording, close in with a touch of resonance). This is an exemplary performance of a complex, concentrated work, and a fitting ending to an authoritative cycle. © 2014 The Strad Read complete review

Joe Milicia
Enjoy the Music, January 2014

Sound Quality:

Each quartet features extended solos for one or more of the four players, and these are performed searingly by the Pacifica members.

…the Pacifica are convincing and indeed stunning in their virtuosity.

There are some classic performances of the Shostakovich quartets available at bargain prices, but the Pacifica’s interpretations can stand alongside them, and none has been better recorded, capturing both the beauty and what one might almost call the violence of the string sounds Shostakovich sometimes calls for. © 2014 Enjoy the Music Read complete review

Terry Robbins
The WholeNote, January 2014

Volume IV of The Soviet Experience, the outstanding Cedille series of String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and his Contemporaries, features quartets numbers 13 to 15 by Shostakovich in stunning performances by the Pacifica Quartet…What has added immeasurably to this series, though, is the addition of contemporary Russian string quartets to each volume. This time it’s the String Quartet No 3 by Alfred Schnittke that completes the 2-CD set. Everything about this wonderful series has been of the highest order: the performances; the recording quality; the cover artwork; the booklet notes; the choice of contemporary works…even in the face of some extremely strong competition it’s very difficult to imagine a more compelling or satisfying collection of these wonderful works. © 2014 The WholeNote Read complete review

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
The New York Times, December 2013

There is a wintry beauty in the Pacifica’s rendition of these tormented quartets and even where the mood is bleak, the sound radiates warmth and reconciliation. © 2013 The New York Times Read complete review

Robert Moon
Audiophile Audition, December 2013

Although there are many performances of the complete Shostakovich quartets available, the Pacifica Quartet’s traversal of these masterpieces is one of the best. Their sheer brilliance of execution, the emotional depth of their interpretation and the stunning sound make this a most desirable set.

The Pacifica Quartet plays the works on these CDs with passion and impeccable balance, plumbing the depths of the Russian soul. This is a fitting conclusion to a great set of Shostakovich Quartets and their Russian companions that reveal the essence of Soviet music in the mid and late 20th-century. © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2013

The Best Classical Recordings of 2013

The final installment of the Pacifica Quartet’s Shostakovich string quartet cycle, containing his last three works in that form, is as much an artistic and technical triumph as the three previous releases in the series. Alfred Schnittke’s bleak Third Quartet (1983), aswirl with allusions to Shostakovich and Mahler, adds to the attractions of Cedille’s double-disc set. © 2013 Chicago Tribune

John Terauds
Musical Toronto, December 2013

Violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad and cellist Brandon Vamos play with an intensity and focus that seem superhuman at times. The sound has weight without ever feeling heavy. Even the slowest, quietest passages maintain a narrative thread. And regardless of the speed or dynamics, the overall balance is absolute.

The most impressive show of musicianship comes in the final, 15th quartet, written in E-flat minor, which is not an easy-to-tackle key for string players. All four members of the quartet have an equal role to play in the music’s gradual unfolding over six seamless movements. They have to build a 36-minute long arc out of the most transparent of material, and succeed by keeping our attention every second of the way. © 2013 Musical Toronto Read complete review

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