Karen Tanaka At the grave of Beethoven
Schulhoff String Quartet No 1
Shostakovich String Quartet No 8
George Crumb Black Angels
The title for Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli (In Time of War) is the starting point
for this programme created by the Brodskys especially for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The works they have chosen, are all powerful reflections on subsequent wars.
Karen Tanaka’s At the grave of Beethoven, calm and touching, was composed during the Bosnian conflict. Irwin Schulhof died in a Nazi concentration camp, but not before writing some of that time’s most exciting and original music. Shostakovich’s bleakly powerful 8th Quartet carries the inscription ‘For the victims of Fascism and War’ and was a response to the devastation caused by Allied bombing of Dresden.
Dave Brubeck’s Regret was his response to the 9/11 attack; and George Crumb’s remarkable Black Angels, signed off ominously on Friday 13th 1970, was a daringly original critique of the Vietnam War. There is nothing else like it in the string quartet literature: a piece – with its eerie, amplified effects and bowed, tuned wind glasses – that the Brodskys reckon to be ‘surely one of the stand-out quartets of all time’.