The Angst that Matches LA Traffic - Shostakovich String Quartets

When I think of my favorite recording, the Emerson Quartet recording of the Shostakovich String Quartets immediately comes to mind. In high school, I would always listen to these quartets while driving around L.A.; unsurprisingly the quartets have an angst that often matches the feeling of L.A. traffic. All jokes aside, this recording deepened my love of chamber music and introduced me to many of the Shostakovich string quartets.
What makes this recording exceptional to me is the range of characters and colors that the Emerson Quartet finds in each movement. Shostakovich is too often only associated with death and struggle. While these qualities are always be present in his music, there is also humor, sensitivity, joy and hope. The beauty of Shostakovich for me lies in finding the intricate personalities while acknowledging the darkness behind it all, which the Emerson Quartet does brilliantly.

Take the first movement of the fifth string quartet for example, there are many contrasting feelings that change incredibly quickly and overlap. The opening makes me feel like I am prancing around Bansky’s Dismaland in mismatched shoes but then the music suddenly turns violent and militaristic. Then what was harsh morphs into something heroic; and that’s just the first 45 seconds.

I hope that you enjoy this incredible music and recording as much as I do.

Los-Angeles native Anna Heflin is a classical violist who is passionate about contemporary music. Anna holds a Bachelor of Music and a minor in art history from UCSB, where she studied with Helen Callus and graduated with honors. She is currently studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she is pursuing her Masters of Music. At SFCM she is studying with Jodi Levitz while working with MaryClare Brzytwa and David Garner.

Anna has a passion for contemporary music and composes works for herself in addition to premiering works. She enjoys incorporating electronics into her compositions and has experience working with Max/MSP and Ableton Live. This summer she is attending New Music On The Point and interning for HELLO STAGE in Vienna! When she’s not playing music you can find her drinking coffee, doing yoga or exploring.

Author: Anna Heflin
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