In the time since this Festival began in 1996 the two quartets by Janáček have gone from being quite rarely heard to being seized upon by every young Quartet. There is an indomitable thirst for life in the story of the aging composer being inspired by a muse decades younger than him. The idea of letters is taken up again in Brett Dean’s dramatic narration of the tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots told through letters to her cousin Queen Elizabeth. This is the first of three works featuring portraits of famous women in their own words. Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet, his Thirteenth, is named after the slow movement theme that he also used as incidental music for a contemporary play (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus) by the poet journalist Wilhelmina von Chézy. The concert closes with George Crumb’s famous commentary on the Vietnam War, Black Angels, where the musicians sit surrounded by tam-tams and tables covered with crystal glasses, thimbles, glass rods and even paper clips. The composer died recently and we celebrate his life with this performance of his most famous work, written then as now In tempore belli.