RTÉ Contempo Quartet – Beethoven Music for a Later Age
John Kinsella String Quartet No. 3
Beethoven String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132 in A minor

Composed in 1977, John Kinsella’s dark-hued Third String Quartet was his response to a time of intense personal and creative tumult. It explores similar emotional terrain (and with no less profundity) to that of Beethoven’s turbulent and fiercely interior Fifteenth String Quartet.

In his last quartets, Beethoven seems possessed by an urge to test the limits of what music can convey. Whether Beethoven meant his late quartets as self-analysis or unchecked confession remains unknown. (The investigation of the interior self was a novel notion, its codification by Sigmund Freud still decades away.) But their power to communicate with unfettered emotional directness renders them as some of the most potent of artistic testimonies.
The five-movement Fifteenth Quartet (Op. 132) was completed while in ill health and begins in shadow, plumbs the darkest depths and ends in sublime sweetness.