They will be joined on the night by composer David John Roche, whose new commission A Prayer at the Edge of Silence takes its place in the programme alongside Bartók’s achingly beautiful Quartet No. 1, and Beethoven’s most exploratory and inventive work in the genre, his Quartet in C sharp minor, op. 131.
These three works will be presented in a one-hour playlist-form concert, exploring the ways in which Beethoven and Bartók were both fearless pioneers in the string quartet genre, forming their own unique exploratory paths which countless composers have since followed. Before the music, the Solem Quartet will present ‘Unpacking BBN live’, a 20-minute presentation with musical examples getting under the surface of the music, giving insight to the performers perspective of these works, and finding the connections that links the three composers’ works together.
An ‘Unpacking BBN’ video has also been released online in the build up to the premiere, in which Solem violinist Will Newell chats to David John Roche about A Prayer at the Edge of Silence. Dave talks us through the five movements of this piece – along the way touching on thrash metal, The Simpsons, and the weight of historic composers. Watch the video below, or via this link.
Dave also writes:
“A Prayer at the Edge of Silence is a 5-movement piece of music about hope. The wild, joyful, and excited music of the first and final movements sits alongside the yearning, cathartic lyricism and bold, crisp, freshness of the central three. The titular prayer sits gently, offering a whispering moment of rest and stillness – this is a positive, happy piece of music and a call for clearer, happier, calmer times ahead.”
Launched at the end of 2020, Beethoven Bartók Now is an ambitious six-part series presenting the historic works of Beethoven and Bartók in a new light. Across six programmes, the Solem Quartet perform the six late quartets of Beethoven with the six quartets of Bartók, alongside specially commissioned works from leading living composers. Each event is also paired with wraparound digital content including online workshops (‘Writing for Quartet’) and programme notes videos (‘Unpacking BBN’), like the one above.