Quartet tells tale of developing love

Timothy West and Grammy Award-winners The Pavao String Quartet offer a dramatic retelling of the illicit love affair, which resulted in one of the most passionate string quartets of the 20th century when they visit Worthing’s Connaught Theatre on May 23.

The evening is based around the events of 1916 when, at age 61, the composer Janáček finally achieved success with the Prague premiere of Jenufa. He had been ignored for the majority of his working life for being a workmanlike but unremarkable composer who was mainly a provincial organist.

Janáček’s frustration at remaining unacknowledged until late in life led him to have several affairs with much younger women. He became infatuated with Kamila Stösslova, a 35-year-old married woman with two children who remained his obsession until his death in 1928. She and the 600 love letters between the pair were the subject of the composer’s String Quartet No. 2, which was given the secondary title, Intimate Letters.

The quartet’s movements chart the duo’s first fateful meeting, their growing infatuation, a poignant lullaby for their never-born child and a final celebratory movement marking love’s triumph over death.

Janáček’s dedication to Kamila was deleted from Intimate Letters for up to ten years after his death because Janácek’s wife had access to the lovers’ letters restricted.

During the recreation of the story, which has been researched by cellist Justin Pearson, Timothy West reads the composer’s love letters chronologically placed between the movements of the composer’s second string quartet.

The Pavão Quartet, who perform the classical piece, have enjoyed a 14-year journey which has so far included a Grammy award, worldwide radio play, number one hits in the Classical charts and performances before royalty and rock stars, in venues from Wigmore Hall and Ronnie Scott’s to the Wailing Wall. Box office: 01903 206 206 or online at www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.