Album: Mandelring Quartett, Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets, Vol 5 (Audite)

The final instalment of thequartet's sequence of Shostakovich string quartets brings together the 11th, 13th and 15th, pieces linked by their etiolated, elegiac tone.

There's a bleak intensity to these late quartets, riven as they are with the spectre of death – of friends, and the prospect of this confirmed atheist's own – which is most striking in the pale, drained tonal colouration of the opening Andantino of the No 11. Elsewhere, the mournful No 13 features furtive pizzicato tapping bow-woods, like rattling skeletons, while the composer's dark mindset is confirmed in that all seven movements of his final quartet are marked Adagio.

Download this String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op 122