String Quartet No. 15
October 25, 1974. Leningrad. House of Composers; November 15, 1974. Glinka Small Hall in Leningrad performed by the Taneyev Quartet; January 11, 1975. Moscow, in the Small Hall of the Conservatoire. Performed by the Beethoven Quartet.
1975. Score, “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.
The hand-written score is in the archive of the composer’s family.
Dedication: “To the Memory of Sergei Petrovich Shirinsky”.
“It has become a tradition for my later string quartets to be premiered in Leningrad. Usually they are performed by the Beethoven Quartet, but because of the death of the superb cellist S. Shirinsky, the ensemble was unable to play.
This was why for the first time I turned to another group of musicians - the Taneyev Quartet - who were new for me.”
“This work strikes me as quite unique. It has six very slow parts, which are quiet almost all the way through. There are revelations in this quartet of a kind that it is difficult for a mere mortal to achieve. I feel that this quartet is like an address from another sphere, if I can use the expression - it defies description. Yet I always have the feeling that it is Shostakovich speaking to us after his death.”
String Quartet No.15
E-flat Minor op. 144
The Fifteenth String Quartet, Op. 144, was begun on 13 April and finished on 17 May 1974, soon after the composer was hospitalised once more.
The Fifteenth Quartet is one of Shostakovich’s few compositions in this genre that does not have a dedication. Shostakovich’s previous four quartets were dedicated to members of the Beethoven Quartet, the ensemble that first performed all of his quartets, beginning with the Second (1944). The premiere of the Fifteenth by this ensemble scheduled for the autumn of 1974 could not take place due to the death of the cellist, Sergey Shirinsky, on 18 October 1974. The Quartet was performed for the first time on 15 October 1974 in Leningrad, in the hall of the Glinka Academic Capella, by the Leningrad Taneyev Quartet—Vladimir Ovcharek, Grigori Lutsky, Vissarion Soloviev and Iosif Levinson. The Beethoven Quartet gave the Moscow premiere (on 11 January 1975 in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory) with a changed lineup: Dmitri Tsyganov, Nikolay Zabavnikov, Fedor Druzhinin and Yevgeni Altman.
According to Derek Hulme’s catalogue, in 1974, the copyist’s score was circulated by Muzyka Publishers, while Anglo-Soviet Music Press put out the full score and parts presumably the same year. In 1975, the full score and parts came out in Muzyka (Nos. 8961 and 8962) and Hans Sikorski (Nos. 2204 and 2209 [in the same volume as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Quartets]) Publishers; an arrangement of the Fifteenth Quartet for piano four hands by Aleksandr Dmitriyev appeared in theDmitri Shostakovich. Quartets series (Muzyka Publishers, Leningrad, 1979).
- Beethoven Quartet: Tsyganov D.M., Zabavnikov N., Druzhinin F.S., Altman E. 1975 // Melodia Eurodisc 89 803 XDK,
- Beethoven Quartet: Tsyganov D.M., Zabavnikov N., Druzhinin F.S., Altman E. 1975 // Melodia S 10-06495-6, 1976
- Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1978 // Melodia C 10-11757-8, 1979
- Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1978 // Victor VIC-2176, 1979 (?)
- Beethoven Quartet 1975 // Shinsekai SMK-7887,
- Taneyev Quartet: Ovcharek V.Yu., Lutsky G., Soloviev V., Levinson I. 1975 // Melodia S 10-06639-40, 1976
- Sukovo kvarteto: Novák A., Jouza V., Řehák K., Štros J. 1981 // Panton 8111 0195, 1981
- Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1978 // HMV Melodia EX 270339 E 2703451, 1986
- Brodsky Quartet: Thomas M., Belton I., Cassidy P., Thomas J. 1989 // TELDEC 9031-71702-2, 1990
- Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1995 // TELDEC 4509-98417-2, 1996
- Fitzwilliam Quartet: C. Rowland, J. Spary, A. George, I. Davis. 1975 // LONDON 455 782-2 (Set 455 776-2), 1998
- Shostakovich Quartet: Shishlov A.A., Pishchugin S., Galkovsky A.V., Korchagin A.A. 1988 // OLYMPIA OCD 534, 1994
- Beethoven Quartet: Tsyganov D.M., Zabavnikov N., Druzhinin F.S., Shirinsky S.P. 1976 // PRAGA PR 254 043, 1994
- Kremer G.M., Phillips D., Kashkashyan K., Ma Y. 1985 // CBS MK 44924, 1989