Cast Program notes Appears in More info
If Beethoven had not had a falling out with British violinist George Bridgetower, we might still call his Violin Sonata No. 9 the Bridgetower Sonata for the artist to whom it was originally dedicated, and who premiered it alongside the composer. But following a disagreement over a woman they both knew, Beethoven rededicated the work to French virtuoso Rodolphe Kreutzer, and since 1803 it has been known as the Kreutzer Sonata. Years later, in 1889, Leo Tolstoy drew on this chamber music masterpiece for his novel The Kreutzer Sonata—a scandal in its day for sexual and violent content—in which Beethoven’s music plays a defining role; in 1923 Tolstoy’s novel, in turn, inspired Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s first string quartet.
Surrounded by light and nature in Brno’s Villa Tugendhat (designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich), the Bennewitz Quartet, champions of Czech repertoire, bring Janáček’s two string quartets to life in a visually striking production. Following the “Kreutzer” Quartet No. 1, the second, “Intimate Letters” (1928), alludes to an intense epistolary and platonic relationship with a much younger, married woman toward the end of the composer’s life. Nearly 75, the composer wrapped an intense lyrical beauty in a progressive and psychologically profound aesthetic; for writer Milan Kundera, these two jewels of the repertoire represent “the pinnacle of his work.”