The midterm exam was drawn up under the influence of Shostakovich’s string quartet number eight, performed by the Kronos Quartet. Their version of it that I have is on a CD with an arrangement of a Thomas Tallis piece, a few twentieth century items, and at the very beginning a piece by George Crumb that starts out with a section called “Night of the Electric Insects” that freaked the ever-loving hell out of me the first time I heard it.
(In my defense, I was only about sixteen the first time I heard it. My mother gave me the CD, Black Angels, for Christmas, and I put it into my walkman late at night with the volume turned up slightly too loud, unaware of the screeching uproar that was about to burst into my young brain. Thanks, Mom!)
The Shostakovich quartet is the last item on the CD, and it’s probably my favorite. I had not listened to it in a while, and hearing it again made me think that I should find an additional recording of it. Not because there’s anything wrong with this one – just to hear a different performance. I never feel like I’ve really absorbed a given piece of music until I hear a few different versions of it.
Do you think it’s un-Shostakovian to have bonus questions?