A last farewell to London as the legendary quartet completes its landmark Southbank Centre Shostakovich cycle before retirement.

Dmitry Shostakovich’s widow claimed that the composer’s string quartets were a personal diary that told ‘the story of his soul’. This is Shostakovich’s only significant body of work that escaped censorship from the Soviet authorities.

Emerson String Quartet @Southbank Centre

The quartets are vivid testimonies to a life lived under duress – and testaments to friends and colleagues who became victims. At the culmination of its journey through the fifteen quartets, and its own swansong as an ensemble, the Emerson Quartet takes us headlong into the intense and unsettled domain of the String Quartet No.13. In No.14, the cello is the focus of the work’s deep longing. This is music that has been compared to ‘beautiful varnish covering a fathomless depth of anguish.’

The composer’s last quartet is perhaps his most intimate of all – an epic, stoic yet deeply melancholic farewell which forms a fitting gesture for the Emerson Quartet’s retirement after half a century of performance.


  • Shostakovich: String Quartet No.13 in B flat minor, Op.138; String Quartet No.14 in F sharp, Op.142
  • Interval
  • Shostakovich: String Quartet No.15 in E flat minor, Op.144