The Shostakovich Quartet:
Andrey Shishlov (first violin), Sergey Pischugin (second violin),
Alexander Galkovsky (alto), Alexander Korchagin (cello), Alexey Kozlov (alto saxophone,
Alexey Kozlov and the Shostakovich String Quartet, Boheme Music, CDBMR 904054
Audio sample: NOCTURNE
The Shostakovich Quartet
was founded in 1976 and has gained international reputation after becoming prize winners
of some prestigious competitions. Over 30 years of concerts and tours in 38 countries on 4
continents have brought it the world-wide fame. Along with giving concerts and touring,
the Shostakovich Quartet takes part in studio work. In last years they recorded over 50
discs and compact discs for Olympia (Great Britain), Melodiya (Russia), Deutsche
Grammophon (Germany), Ricordi (Italy), MPSL (USA), Toshiba EMI and Sacrambow (Japan).
Their repertoire includes 15 quartets by Dmitry Shostakovich, music by European classics
as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, the Russian classics as
Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Glazunov, Grechaninov, and also by 20th century innovators:
Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. The musicians of the Quartet have a wide range
of interest and are competent in the most different spheres of musical culture, including
Alexey Kozlov is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, founder of the Russian jazz-rock and
the leader of the Arsenal ensemble, Russia's first jazz rock band which exists since 1973.
A.Kozlov is mentioned as a typical representative of musical underground of Stalin and
Brezhnev time in a popular book by American journalist Hedrik Smith 'The Russians' (ch.8,
'Youth'). The name of Alexey Kozlov is entered in the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia (vol.8,
'Jazz'), in the Encyclopaedia of Music, and in some foreign jazz encyclopaedias and
dictionaries. An article about him can be found in the annual 'The International Who's
Who' (Europe Publications Ltd., London).
Alexey Kozlov and the Shostakovich String Quartet
Music presented on the new CD is a part of our joint program which came into being in
the late 1996. It is characteristic that all pieces contain improvisations by myself and
the members of the Quartet. The principle of improvisation was inherent in academic music
from its very start, but towards the end of the 19th century the soloists stopped to
improvise for some reason, maybe out of fear to intrude in the pieces by the composers who
became classics. But at the beginning of our century a new kind of musical art based on
improvisation appeared. It was called jazz. So, in our program we have made an attempt to
bring improvisation back into classical pieces on the one hand, and to impart chamber,
academic character to the classical jazz pieces on the other.
The participants of the project have met by chance at a reception in autumn of 1997.
Alexey Kozlov has long nourished plans to make a program for saxophone and string
instruments, and the musicians of the Quartet, though having typical classical education,
were interested in jazz from their youth and collected discs and recordings. First
rehearsals have already shown that they have no problems with swing and drive which remain
an insurmountable barrier for many classical musicians.
The idea of this program is clear. It is an
attempt to bring the principle of improvisation back to academic music on the one hand,
and to introduce the aesthetics of chamber music to the performance of jazz on the other.
Not all classical pieces can be reinterpreted, and it is not always possible or necessary
to improvise. But in some pieces by the French impressionists and Russian composers of the
late 19th - early 20th centuries there are harmonic outlines very close to modern jazz.
Examples are presented on the CD. The recorded pieces comprise just a part of an extensive
concert program of this, so to say, Quintet. According to Alexey Kozlov, the period of
making arrangements for this program has proved very useful to him, due to valuable
counsel of the experienced members of the Quartet, he had good schooling in
instrumentation and mastered 'quartet composition'. He had another assistant: a computer
with Cubase software which helped him to memorize scores, play them in real time, correct
mistakes and print the notes. As a result of this work, Kozlov composed 'Forgiveness', a
piece for quartet without saxophone, which is a variant of the composition of the same
name performed by the Arsenal ensemble in the early 80s. It is the last piece on new CD.