Of all contemporary writers, there is no one I admire more highly than Brian Friel.
— Peter Brook
In 1928, at the age of seventy-four and just a few months before he died, Leos Janácek completed his String Quartet No. 2. He called it Intimate Letters. Brian Friel’s enthralling play, through which this quartet is woven, centres on the circumstances surrounding its composition and specifically on the effect of Janácek’s relationship with Kamila Stösslová. By reflecting on the composer’s intoxication with a married woman nearly forty years his junior, to whom he wrote over seven hundred letters, Friel considers the interaction between that passion and Janácek’s final surge of creative energy; the relationship between the private life and the public work; and the artist’s insistence — or delusion? — that he chose, in Yeats’s phrase, the perfection of the work. Performances is a further marvel by one of the finest living playwrights.