Beethoven String Quartets and the Brentano String Quartet
In this final week of the Brentano String Quartet’s Australian tour, an interesting article about Beethoven’s string quartets has appeared in The Australian. In taking their name from Antonie Brentano – friend and patron of Beethoven and possibly his “Immortal Beloved” – the Brentano String Quartet hoped “that if he loved her and we named ourselves after her, he might love us, too.” At least one commentator has remarked that this seems to have worked, and while their programming as a whole has been much commented on, it is their approach to the Beethoven string quartets opp 132 and 135 which has received most praise.
Late Beethoven has a reputation for being difficult for both performer and listener. Yet these works are also likely to be the ones that resonate most deeply. Michael Henderson writes:
“So why do the quartets continue to touch so many listeners so deeply? The first, most obvious reason is that this music has an unprecedented emotional power that repeated exposure can never dull… There are two other reasons. More than any composer, more even than Schubert, his great contemporary, Beethoven measures our growth as sentient beings, just as Shakespeare and Rembrandt do. A person who fails to come to terms with Beethoven has, in some profound sense, failed to live a proper life, or to understand why life is worth living… Falsity assails us everywhere. Yet Beethoven, through his music, always tells the truth. He compels us to listen afresh, and to make an honest assessment of ourselves and our lives.” Click here to read the full article.
Beethoven quartets are also close to the hearts of Australia’s own Goldner String Quartet. Watch them talk about the quartets in Musica Viva’s Concert Insights to find out more.