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Rudolf Barshai’s transcription of Shostakovich’s eighth quartet is no stranger to the catalogue with some 30-or-so recordings: his achievement is to seize on the anguish and pathos of the original and amplify it without sacrificing its personal, private grief. The current performance is as fine as any, tense and detailed. more controversial will be Mahler’s transcription of the Death and the Maiden quartet: here, 24 players really do seem too many, especially in the somewhat indulgent first movement – no quartet would put the brakes on quite so readily or so often.

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