Following the release of the Mandelring Quartet's highly acclaimed first volume of the Complete String Quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich, they have now recorded a second volume containing another three. Here again the ensemble addresses the overwhelming intensity of Shostakovich's music with maximum commitment and commanding expressive power without neglecting its intimate and lyrical aspects. Quartet No. 8 confirmed Shostakovich's status as a composer of chamber music once and for all. With this five-movement work, composed in just a few days during a visit to the German Democratic Republic, the composer was writing a kind of requiem for himself, replete with quotations from his most important works. He was 53 at the time, and could look back on a turbulent life which for two decades was deeply marked by a battle of wills with Stalin, the Soviet dictator - a trauma which remained with Shostakovich till the end of his life. Further stages in his project to come to terms with the quartet genre are evident in Quartet No. 3 (1946) and Quartet No. 6 (1956), two works which chart his achievement in steering a path between folk music and baroque techniques and reconciling the trauma of war with the reconstruction taking place during the "thaw" which followed Stalin's death.Shostakovich's 15 quartets represent an imposing body of work. His range and encyclopaedic command of the medium are without parallel in twentieth-century music.