Ensemble 360

St Martin's Church, Stoney Middleton
Sunday 14 May 2023, 7.00pm

£14 DLA, UC & PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students 

Save £s when you book for 5 concerts or more at the same time 

Past Event
String players of Ensemble 360

SCHNITTKE Hymnus II for cello and double bass (6’)
SIBELIUS String Quartet ‘Voces Intimae’ (32’)
SCHUBERT String Quartet No. 14 ‘Death and the Maiden’ (40’) 

A reflective evening of intimate music at sundown in the unique in-the-round setting of St Martin’s Church in Stoney Middleton, against a stunning backdrop of the beautiful Peak District.   

Schubert’s deeply personal and beloved ‘Death and the Maiden’ quartet is preceded by the crowning achievement of Sibelius’s chamber music, a soulful quartet of fierce intensity, and a sonorous duet from Schnittke that draws out the eerie tones of the bass strings. 


Limited tickets available; early booking is highly recommended. 

SCHNITTKE Alfred, Hymnus II for cello & double bass

Schnittke composed Hymnus II, for cello and double bass, in 1974. It is the second of four ‘Hymns’ written between 1974 and 1979 for unusual instrumental combinations (the first is for cello, harp and timpani, the third for cello, bassoon, harpsichord and bells).  The music is marked by a kind of meditative stillness (briefly interrupted by a cello outburst), and, at the close, by an eerie, otherworldly quality as these two bass instruments seem to reach ever higher before fading into an uneasy silence.    

© Nigel Simeone

SIBELIUS Jean, String Quartet Op.56 ‘Voces Intimae’

Andante–Allegro molto moderato 
Adagio di molto 
Allegretto (ma pesante) 

In February and March 1909, Sibelius came to London to conduct concerts of his own music and it was during this stay that he composed most of the Voces intimae (Intimate Voices) quartet. He first stayed at the Langham Hotel (across the road from Queen’s Hall) but asked his friend Rosa Newmarch to find cheaper lodgings where he could also work in silence. She found quiet rooms for him in Kensington and having installed him, ‘left the composer to settle down (as I hoped) to write his string quartet, Voces initimae.’ Word travelled in the neighbourhood that a composer was staying, emboldening one elderly lady to play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata repeatedly, as a sign of solidarity. Newmarch intervened, there was no more Beethoven, and Sibelius was able to make good progress on the quartet in Kensington. 


According to his diary, he began the second movement on 16 February, and sketched the third on 25 February. Work continued throughout March (at the end of which he left London) and the quartet was finished in Berlin on 15 April. The first performance took place a year later, on 25 April 1910, in Helsinki. 


Voces intimae is a characteristically bold exploration of musical form: there are five movements (including two scherzos), with a highly expressive slow movement at the centre. There has been speculation about the title and the likeliest explanation is that it has some connection with the fear of death which Sibelius confided to his diary in London. It was clearly a personal reference that will probably remain a mystery, but it is entirely apt for a work that embodies such an intense musical dialogue between the four instruments.  

© Nigel Simeone

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