The magnificent Jerusalem Quartet returns to our stage with an all-20th century program, each piece of which was written in response to troubled times.
Prokofiev's mid-war (1942), tempestuous second string quartet, was, at the behest of the USSR, to be based on a set of folk tunes from the Kabardino-Balkan region. The music snarls, though on occasion with mock-cheer.
Shostakovich was forced by Joseph Stalin to write symphonic music that glorified the Soviet State; but Stalin cared not for chamber music. That left Shostakovich free to do his most intense exploration and imaginative creative work in the string quartet genre. His 10th quartet (1962) is characterized by a puritanical-like fury.
Bartok's sixth quartet was written during a period of great personal stress: The War limited publication possibilities; his mother died; his own health began to fail; and he decided to uproot his family and the move to the United States. One can hear the strife throughout.