(All lovers of chamber music, and of classical music in general, this post’s for you.)
When I recently told the story of the fairy godmother of chamber music and her wonderful concert hall in the Berkshires, He Wanted a Mountain, I didn’t have room for one of the photos I’d taken there. This is it:
A bare stage is what greets concertgoers when they enter the hall for a program of chamber music. Fittingly enough, a bare stage is also what greets moviegoers at the opening of the new, and staggeringly beautiful, film A Late Quartet. Soon enough the members of the fictional Fugue Quartet enter and we’re off on an adventure through the world of music and musicians that will leave you breathless. (Maybe even in tears, as it did me.)
They are below (from L to R) Mark Ivanir, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener, movie actors all. But I would swear they were actually the professional musicians they are portraying, and they are certainly the passionate human beings who will play equally skillfully on your heart strings.
Beethoven’s late quartet, the tumultuous 40-minute Quartet in C sharp minor (Op. 131), accounts for the title. (Well, partly.) The ravishing rendition is by the world-famed Brentano Quartet, and the cellist of the Brentano actually makes a cameo appearance (*spoiler*) as the cellist of the Fugue Quartet.
What a privileged situation, to enter into this hothouse world of those who give their lives to make the music that enriches the lives of the rest of us! If it comes to a theater anywhere near you, don’t miss A Late Quartet!
Thanks for the recommendation, Judith – I’ll definitely keep my eyes open. Beethoven’s late quartets are fine music and high in my list – but I do not listen to them very often because I think they are quite demanding.
I once heard the Alban Berg Quartet play one of them live, and that quartet literally brought the audience to its feet. You almost got the feeling of attending a Jazz or Pop concert. Amazing experience. Now that’s what a good quartet can do.
This particular Beethoven quartet is INTENSE. In fact, “intense” is the word a music critic used for the performance by the Brentano Quartet which is used in the movie. I’m with you, I find those late quartets are usually too demanding for me. Recently my favorite go-to music of that type is Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Just shows you where I am!
Thanks for the tip and the link to the trailer – this looks like a great film. I’ve just checked the UK release date and apparently it’s April 2013 – good grief, why must we wait so long?!
That really is a long time difference, Karen!
You might want to read Vikram Seth’s An Equal Balance while you’re waiting. I LOVED that book, about the travails of a second violinist and the quartet he belongs to, and the pianist he loved — AND there’s a CD available with all of the chamber music so intrinsic to the book, which I also love. (You can check it out on amazon. On the other hand, maybe you already know the book –)
To Karen: This is the comment I wanted to add to your beautiful post on Buckinghamshire:
What glorious photos! Suitable to a book called There’ll Always be an England.
And an informative text too. I was especially interested in the evolution of vicars’ names.
But there was no way Google or Blogger was letting me comment, I tried every which way from here to Sunday. And I don’t have your email address — so I hope you’ll see this!
The Brentano Quartet have come to my notice only fairly recently … they’re impressive indeed.
You only get to see one of them in the film (and only a cameo at that) but you do get to hear them in the Beethoven. It’s an experience! I hope the film will be coming out in New Zealand.
I would be looking out for the film, thank you.
I hope you enjoy it when you find it, Shakti! And thank you so much for visiting, I appreciate it.
I think what I appreciate most about your blog(s) is that it gives you this beautiful expanse of canvas on which you get to paint ALL of your interests and fascinations for us to share. Thank you!
And thank you (you, personally, Jen, and all of the “you’s” out there) for wanting to share them! It’s a great gift to me, and I’m constantly grateful for it.