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Archived event

Performance details

Sunday 26 March 2023 at 11am
Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre

View program


MSO Musicians
Michelle Wood curator


Bach Partita No.2: Chaconne for Two Cellos
Janáček Kreutzer Sonata for String Nonet
Anna Clyne Shorthand
Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata for String Quintet

About this performance

At the heart of Leo Tolstoy’s scandalous (and state-censored) novella The Kreutzer Sonata lies Beethoven’s 1803 work that inspired it. Tolstoy’s urgent, dramatic story in turn ignited the imaginations of countless composers including Janáček and Anna Clyne. Join curator and MSO cellist Michelle Wood in exploring the musical and literary cross-pollination of these extraordinary works.

  • The Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No.2 – here performed by two cellos – is a moody, evocative, and unaccompanied piece, foreshadowing musical elements in Beethoven’s sonata and beyond.
  • Almost violent in its expression of emotion, Janáček’s Kreutzer Sonata captures the emotional whirlwind of Tolstoy’s psychological drama through haunting harmonies, driving rhythms, and harshly percussive use of stringed instruments.
  • Inspired by Tolstoy’s quotation that ‘music is the shorthand of emotion’, Grammy-Award-winning British composer Anna Clyne’s Shorthand reimagines musical themes from both Janáček and Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonatas.
  • Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata – originally written for violin and piano – is a dramatic tour de force. With passages of fevered anguish, unbridled rage, and jubilant lightness, it’s easy to see how this piece compelled so many creatives well beyond its composer’s lifetime.

Duration: approx. 2 hours including interval

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