Instrumentation: String Quartet (Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello)
Size: 8.7 x 11.4 inches
Urtext / Critical Edition
Shostakovich first conceived of this quartet in 1969 and completed it in 1970 while he was undergoing treatment at an orthopedic clinic in Kurgan. Interestingly, the work consists of one movement (Adagio - Doppio movimento - Tempo primo) which takes approximately 19 minutes to play.
The piece was dedicated to Vadim Borisovsky, violist of the Beethoven Quartet, and the viola is accordingly given a prominent role in the piece. The quartet opens with a twelve-tone row played on the viola, and concludes with a long viola solo in the high register. The work also requires the players to tap on the bodies of their instruments with their bows at several points; such techniques had become almost commonplace in the West by this time, but were not typically used in Soviet music of this period.