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Repertoire for 2023/24 Season


Program 1:  “Ungrievable Lives” 

A program themed around grief. The short renaissance arrangements [in brackets] are optional.

(see program description below)


[De Lassus - La nuit froide et sombre]

Charlotte Bray - Ungrievable Lives (composed for Castalian Quartet, premiering 2022)

Mendelssohn - Quartet in F minor, Op. 80

[Dowland - Come, heavy sleep]

Benjamin Britten:  String Quartet No. 3 in G-Major, Op 94



Program 2:  “Kreutzer Sonata”

Janaček:  String Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata”

Mark-Anthony Turnage "Awake" (composed for Castalian Quartet, premiering 2023)

Beethoven - Quartet Op. 130 (with Grosse Fugue, Op 133)


The idea for this program (and the Turnage commission) is to mark the 100th anniversary of Janacek composing his “Kreutzer Sonata” string quartet.  Turnage turned to words by and about George Bridgetower, the Beethoven sonata’s original dedicatee, for his inspiration.

Program 3:  The Three Benjamin Britten Quartets
No 1 in D-Major, Op 25 (1941)

No 2 in C-Major, Op. 36 (1945)

No 3 in G-Major, Op. 94 (1975)

Other works on offer:
Haydn:  Quartet in F-Minor, Op. 20, No. 5
Haydn:  Quartet in A-Major, Op. 20, No. 6 (Spring, 2024 only)
Bartok:  Quartet No. 1 in A-Minor (1909)

Bartok:  Quartet No. 5 (1934)
Mendelssohn:  Quartet in A-Minor, Op. 13 (Spring, 2024 only)

Please advise us of your preferred program combination.  (Note, further combinations from the above may be possible upon request, and with the quartet’s approval.)




Ungrievable Lives – program description


Felix Mendelssohn's F minor quartet is a Requiem for his beloved sister Fanny, written a few months before Felix's own untimely death. The quartet is unlike anything else he every wrote: a frenzied expression of rage, shock, sadness and tender remembrance.


Charlotte Bray's Ungrievable Lives, written for the Castalian Quartet, explores the journey refugees embark on. It is inspired by Caroline Burraway's artwork: refugees' discarded life jackets collected from Greece, sown into 13 children's dresses. In response, the quartet comprises of 13 miniature movements, evoking memory, absence and loss, but also child's play on a lifeboat, a torchlight on the waves in the darkness, and shifting sands of cultural and political borders.


Britten wrote his masterful third quartet at the very end of his life. This fantastical, mesmerising 5-movement piece ends in a passacaglia full of meditation and sadness. There is beauty and resignation confronting death in this music, but also uncertainty - the unresolved question that remains at the end.


The programme can include transcriptions of renaissance songs from de Lassus and Dowland - haunting meditations on day emerging and night falling.


Ungrievable Lives
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