The Brodskys are no strangers to powerful, dramatic programmes, as witnessed by this season’s curtain opener. Two highly personal quartets bookend the concert, each one dedicated to the wife of the composer. Shostakovich’s is a tortured affair that captures with near unbearable intensity the loss of his first wife. It yields to an altogether sunnier quartet by Borodin that envelops an utterly ravishing Nocturne. Between them sits Beethoven’s last complete piece of music, written just months before his death. It is the final work in the greatest cycle of string quartets in history and the tension is palpable as its enigmatic theme ‘Must it be? It must be!’ resounds across the hall.
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