This concert features one of Beethoven’s earliest string quartets and one of his last. His Opus 18 was published in 1801, and No. 6 is a high-spirited and warm-hearted piece. Twenty-five years later, the composer completed his Opus 131: seven movements to be played without a break. Although the quartet received a mixed response from his contemporaries, Beethoven himself thought it his most perfect single work. What was going on in his life when he wrote it? How did this lonely, haunted man perfect his extraordinary journey into the quartet form, one full of conversation, human togetherness, social harmony and integration? How did he move from the Classical balance of Op. 18 to the grandeur, avant-garde daring and unspeakable sorrow of Op. 131? The Endellions perform the two quartets, framing readings by poet Ruth Padel of new works that meditate on the time and circumstances of their creation.