String Quartet No. 2 (Shostakovich)

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Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 68, was composed in 1944 in just nineteen days in Ivanovo, 300 kilometres north-east of Moscow. It was premiered by the Beethoven Quartet and is dedicated to the composer Vissarion Shebalin. When Shostakovich began writing his Second String Quartet he had already completed eight of his fifteen symphonies. He was also half-way through his life. Another thirteen quartets however remained to be composed, and they would come in rapid succession.


The work has four movements:

  1. Overture: Moderato con moto
  2. Recitative and Romance: Adagio
  3. Valse: Allegro
  4. Theme with Variations: Adagio

Playing time is approximately 35 minutes, one minute shorter than his longest, String Quartet No. 15.

The overture that the work begins with is in sonata form, traditional for the first movement of such a work. The music is strong, forceful, and animated. This strong tone is subdued by the lyrical, wandering mood of the recitative. The first violin leads a slow, distressed line of music over soft seventh chords, and eventually finds calm in the romance. The finale works around to and ends in A minor, meaning that the quartet ends in the parallel minor to the opening major key.

External links

  • "Jerusalem Quartet: Shostakovich, Quartet No. 2 - 1. Overture: Moderato con moto". YouTube. 28 December 2011.
  • "Jerusalem Quartet: Shostakovich, Quartet No. 2 - 3. Valse: Allegro". YouTube. 28 December 2011.
  • Anderson, Keith (1996). Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 12 (CD). Naxos Records. 8.550975.
  • Borg-Wheeler, Phillip (2015). Tchaikovsky: Serenade for strings; Shostakovich: String Quartet (PDF) (CD). Linn Records. CKD472.
  • Griffiths, Paul (2012). "Quartet No. 2 in A major for Strings, Op. 68". The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Harris, Stephen (2014). "Shostakovich: the string quartets, Quartet No. 2". Shostakovich: the string quartets.
  • Jones, Evan Allan, ed. (2009). Intimate Voices: The Twentieth Century String Quartet, Vol. 2 Shostakovich to the Avant-Garde. University Rochester Press. ISBN 1-58046-322-3.
  • Matthew-Walker, Robert (1999). Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos 2 & 3 (PDF) (CD). Hyperion Records. CDA67153.
  • Parloff, Michael (26 March 2013). "Lecture on Shostakovich Quartets Nos. 2, 9, & 15". YouTube.
  • Wilson, Elizabeth (2012). The Soviet Experience: Volume II (PDF) (CD). Cedille Records. CDR 90000 130. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
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