(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!