St Petersburg String Quartet
The Eleventh Quartet breaks from the more traditional four-movement structure, and comprises seven separate short movements more comparable with a partita or divertimento. The movements are thematically unified by a sequence of phrases introduced at the beginning of the first movement. The Thirteenth Quartet, on the other hand, forms the only single-movement quartet in Shostakovich's output, and adopts the serial thematicism he introduced to the genre in his previous Twelfth Quartet. It opens with a twelve-note row on unaccompanied viola which is developed melodically and rhythmically throughout the work.
The Fifteenth Quartet was written in 1974, the year before Shostakovich's death. In 1965 he had been diagnosed with a heart condition, and by the time he wrote this, his last quartet, he was very frail. The music seemingly reflects his state of health and mind in that it is a consistently starker, more directly tragic utterance, producing perhaps the most intimate and moving of all his compositions.
All of the music on this album is also available as part of the specially priced box set Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets: ‘These players approach Shostakovich's mighty cycle with a natural authority that's unanswerable, along with tireless precision and virtuosity, plus a wonderful command of the music's way of switching between sunlight and shadow when you least expect it’ (Classic FM Magazine).