In this concert we reach the core of Bartók’s quartet cycle. In the Fourth Quartet we immediately feel that, after the explorations of the first three, he has found his voice with these five movements arranged in symmetrical arch form with a central slow movement at its heart. This sublime movement introduces us to Bartók’s glorious night music, one of the miracles of twentieth century music. The Fifth Quartet revisits the five movement arch structure, now with the bewitching night music placed second and fourth, both contrasting dramatically with the ferocious energy generated by the other movements. The Sixth Quartet comes from a different place, literally. It was composed in Basel on the eve of the Second World War and was the last work he wrote in Europe before he fled to New York. He had always made a principled stand against the Nazis and against Hungary’s right-wing government, refusing prestigious but tainted prizes, moving his publisher from Austria to London, declining all performances in Germany and premiering his works outside Hungary, all issues Russian musicians will now be facing.