WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): String Quartet No. 11, Interscriptum for String Quartet and Piano, Grave for String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 06O077
Reference: WER 6756 2
Description: The Eleventh Quartet - begun and set aside in 1998, and completed after the Twelfth, in 2010 - is a substantial four-movement work with its roots firmly planted in the boundaries-of-tonality territory of the very end of late romanticism, the gestures of which it appropriates and compresses into a teeming swarm of contradictory yet cogently argued ideas. This is especially true of the first movement, full of abrupt transitions, harmonic shifts, dense polyphony - and finally an unexpected calm and simplicity, which leads into the serene chorale-like second movement. This is followed by a hectic scherzo, almost a caricature of the romantic presto, intense and agitated, thrashing about in search of ever more vehement expressive gestures. Brief episodes of uneasy repose interrupt this mad dash to disintegration. Once this finally takes place, the very slow finale wanders aimlessly, shocked, in gestures related to the sobbing and halting heartbeat of the closing pages of Mahler's 9th Symphony and insubstantial ghosts of material from earlier in the quartet. 'Interscriptum' is a re-working of Rihm's Twelfth Quartet, the piano part engaging in a lively, at times tumultuous, dialogue with the quartet, treated as a separate entity. Grave is a memorial piece for the long-time violist of the Alban Berg Quartett, a sombre and moving tribute with powerful echoes of late Mahler, Berg and early Schönberg, with sudden interjections of incoherent grief briefly interrupting the harmonic tension that drives forward the work's insistent message of pain and lamentation. Markus Bellheim (piano), Minguet Quartet.