The evening of the 25 March at the SAW conference in Cardiff saw a performance of Helmut Lachenmann’s third string quartet (“Grido“) by the Arditti Quartet.
This performance formed the first part of a concert programme that was dominated by electroacoustic works of various sorts. However, Lachenmann’s quartet did not seem out of place within a programme of the type, due to the elevated status of noise and timbre in the composer’s music. In fact, Lachenmann’s music has been described as “acoustic electroacoustic music”.
I was already familiar with Lachenmann’s first string quartet, “Gran Torso”, which I am quite fond of, so I knew the kind of soundworld I might expect. In some ways, this newer quartet is a little more accessible than “Gran Torso”, although it still focuses on sound and noise as its fundamental material. There were some points of particular beauty, such as a section where the ‘cellist double stops two notes very close to one another in pitch which creates a fabulously throbbing pulse, over which the other performers play gossamer-like harmonics and col legno bowing.
All in in all, a fabulous concert of a great piece performed by virtually superhuman musicians.