Formed in 1994 at the Royal College of Music in London, the Belcea Quartet has recorded the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Brahms, Bartók and Britten. For this new Alpha release the ensemble has chosen two works by one of the leading composers of twentieth-century chamber music, Dmitri Shostakovich. The Quartet no.3, of historic importance, was initially censured by the Soviet regime, then revised by Shostakovich for its first performance in 1946; the refined playing of the Belcea Quartet brings out all of the piece's contours. The Piano Quintet is among its composer’s most famous works and significantly contributed to his success on the international scene and with the Soviet authorities. The Belcea Quartet performs it inRead more the company of the Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski: the result is a musical encounter at the highest level of excellence.
The Belcea Quartet’s first Shostakovich release offers much food for thought. Their insightful performance of the Third Quartet fully encapsulates the work’s war-scarred anguish. Anderszewski works miracles with Shostakovich’s often spare two-part piano writing, bringing out a greater wealth of colours than is normally the case.
– BBC Music Magazine
They look at the Quintet with fresh eyes and that is evident from the outset. The pianist’s opening soliloquy has power and a directness of emotion, which is matched by the Belcea. The Third String Quartet is every bit as successful. The absolute certainty of ensemble is one of the joys of the Belcea, but just as important is their fearlessness, and their reactivity, capturing the music’s emotional shifts unerringly. A tremendous addition to the Shostakovich discography.