The Brentano String Quartet performs with such passion that the Times of London claims their instruments almost burst into flames. Their programming too is sparked with a passion for innovation as they bring to their Musica Viva Australian tour, early Renaissance music as well as a contemporary Australian work. On the programme is music by Mozart (String Quartet no 15 in D minor, K421), Australian composer Ian Munro (String Quartet no 1, From an Exhibition of Australian Woodcuts (2009),
Renaissance pieces by Orlando Gibbons and William Byrd, Beethoven (String Quartet no 16 in F major, op 135 and number 15 in A minor opus 132) and Haydn (String Quartet in D minor, op 103 Chorale: Der Greis, Hob.XXVc:5)
A sense of curiosity has taken this chamber ensemble to present music that pre-dates the appearance of the string quartet as a musical entity. It is unusual to hear the music of Byrd and Gibbons played by two violins, viola and cello! It will indeed be an intriguing experience, delivered by elite alumni of the Juillard School of Music who have had the benefit and good fortune of nearly 20 years of continuous collaboration.
The Brentano String Quartet is the inaugural String Quartet in Residence at Princeton University, with an array of international awards and tours to their name. Wisely or not, their early ambitions were driven by a vow of poverty, and a pledge to rehearse hard and play to the best of their ability. No doubt many aspiring musicians espouse these ideals – some of them with little choice. In the case of the Brentano String Quartet, these ideals have served them well and brought to us, their audiences performances of intelligence, skill and sensitivity.
Who, by the way, was Brentano? Antonie Brentano was once thought to have been the woman to whom Beethoven wrote an anonymous love letter -” The Immortal Beloved” . Johann Josefa Antonie Edle von Brikenstock was born in Vienna in May 1780, the only daughter of noted “scholar, connoisseur and statesman” Johann Melchoir Edler von Birkenstock and his wife Carolina Josefa von Hay. Antonie, as she was known was educated in an Ursuline convent and when she was 17, given in marriage to a prosperous merchant from Frankfurt, Franz Brentano. They had 6 children and dedicated their lives to philanthropy and supporting the arts, with Goethe and the Brothers Grimm amongst the recipients of their benevolence. They most likely met Beethoven whilst living in Vienna in 1810.