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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Beethoven Op 130 with Grosse Fugue

The Calidore String Quartet.

Sept 20–22, 2023
500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 130 is a journey into inwardness—sound as darkness, sound as light, sound as a brain on fire. Presented by Death of Classical and played by the Calidore String Quartet, these six performances of the work (two each night) end as Beethoven originally conceived—with the Grosse Fugue (Great Fugue) as the sixth movement. That fugue did not go over well when it was first performed in 1826. Insults flew and Beethoven wrote a substitution. A year later, in 1827, the composer died. Opinion on the Grosse Fugue flipped to the positive in the 20th century. Igor Stravinsky called the brilliant and difficult double fugue “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.” Sylvia Plath, in a poem of 1965, referred to it as a “yew hedge,” which suggests something thick and brambled. The exquisite Cavatina, all tenderness, precedes it. Each performance includes an hourlong spirits tasting, followed by a twilight walk through the cemetery to the Catacombs. —Laura Jacobs

Photo courtesy of Death of Classical

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