The Takacs Quartet gave the U.K. premiere of Daniel Kellogg’s Soft Sleep Shall Contain You, a hauntingly beautiful, touching “Meditation on Schubert’s Death and the Maiden.” The BBC has made the performance available online here.

Kellogg’s quartet is a simply beautiful, evocative work that comments–at times gently, at others savagely, ultimately transcendently–on the refrain of Schubert’s famous song, “Death and the Maiden” (and, by extension–and design–the string quartet which bears its name thanks to the variation movement based on this same music). It is a little gem, its biggest–and only–flaw, perhaps, that it feels slight for a piece that is nearly 15 minutes long (although perhaps that’s not much of a flaw at all). This is music that manages to comment on the past while making a statement of its own time, that challenges without alienating and uplifts and enlightens without being patrionizing. A deeply moving work performed impeccably by one of the world’s premiere string quartets.

Hats off, ladies and gentlemen!

4 thoughts on “Takacs Quartet plays Dan Kellogg”
  1. Armando,

    I am a little embarrassed your nuance eluded me, but I still stand by what I said regarding this other work of his (I feel silly withholding the name, but I really can’t remember it or find it). It was the first piece of this kind (that is, a re-interpretation of a highly beloved member of the 19th century canon) that he had written, and Mr. Kellogg admitted he did not extended his references as far as he could have because of his lack of experience with that format.

    That being said, it was a very well done piece of music. I also wanted more, but more in terms of the sophistication of his fantasy, not length.

  2. Garrett,

    I should clarify that my remark about the piece’s brevity being its one flaw is meant to be more of an ironic compliment. 15 minutes doesn’t feel that long to me anymore, but it is a long time for a piece of chamber music, and “Soft Sleep Shall Contain You” manages to feel like it goes by in about a third of the time. What I meant, therefore, is that I want MORE of this piece.

  3. Armando,

    Dan Kellogg was at Michigan last month because the UMS had brought in the Takacs Quartet to perform his piece and the Schubert model. I wasn’t able to got to the concert, but he shared a similar piece based on Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus”, which was beautiful and tasteful in a similar manner to how you have described “Soft Sleep Shall Contain”. I likewise thought the piece he shared only suffered by how light it was, but, to make a cooking analogy, the same level of artistry goes into a perfectly executed dessert as an excellent meat dish or heavier fare.

    Most importantly, Kellogg is a wonderful composer to be around. I was impressed with the down-to-earth way he balances his teaching responsibilities at CU Boulder with his out-of-university performance career. He is clearly a composer who knows what he wants to do and does it well without sticking his nose up at the hardships and other challenges we all face. If I had to say, I think he relishes the challenges associated with making a living being a composer, and that was refreshing to experience in an educational setting.

    Thanks for talking about his music!

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