Argus Quartet x Elspeth Davis


Elvis Costello's Juliet Letters

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
1 Rivington Street / 2nd Floor (Buzzer #1) / New York, NY
6:30pm (doors) / 7:00pm (event)
Tickets: $15 General / $10 Students

So there was this professor in Verona who answered letters addressed to Juliet....

Well, if that sounds like the start of a tall story I suppose it is. My wife, Cait, pointed out the tiny newspaper item about a Veronese academic who had taken on the task of replying to letters addressed to "Juliet Capulet." This apparently continued for a number of years, until some gentlemen of the press exposed this secret correspondence. Quite how he came by these letters in the first place remains unclear. We can only make a guess as to their content. After all, these people were writing to an imaginary woman, and a dead imaginary woman at that. Perhaps they were simply scholarly enquiries, or letters of sympathy from others disappointed in love, or even a plea from somebody forced into an unhappy arranged marriage. Whatever was contained in those letters and their replies, the idea of this correspondence provided our initial inspiration.

I first saw the Brodsky Quartet play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, in 1989. They were giving a series of concerts in which they were to perform all of the string quartets composed by Dimitri Shostakovich. Having arrived in town in time to attend the concert in which they played Quartets Nos. 7, 8, and 9, we returned on two subsequent evenings to hear them complete the cycle. ... Over the next two years we went to see the Brodskys play some wonderful music: Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven and Bartok. Little did I suspect, but members of the Quartet had been to my London concerts during the same period. Somehow the connection was made, we exchanged letters and recordings, and finally arranged to meet after their next London appearance. It was after that lunchtime concert in November 1991 that we began our collaboration. ... We wanted to explore the under-used combination of voice and string quartet, but were anxious to avoid that junkyard named "Cross-Over." This is no more my stab at "classical music" than it is the Brodsky Quartet's first rock and roll album. It does, however, employ the music which we believe touches whatever part of the being that you care to mention. It also conforms to, and occasionally upsets, the structures found in our respective disciplines and indiscipline!

polished playing, good ensemble, and clear phrasing with impressive power
— New York Classical Review
superb recital by the Argus Quartet...done with magnificent assurance
— The Strad




Josquin des Prez (arr: Charles Wuorinen) – Josquiniana (2001)

Elvis Costello – The Juliet Letters (selections)