Sunday, February 23, 2014

Arditti Quartet Residency: Morning and Evening Concerts

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music is thrilled to welcome back the incomparable Arditto Quartet for a one-day residency on Wednesday, March 19th, in which they will play two concerts, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Morning concert: Wednesday 3/19,10 am – 1 pm, Baird Recital Hall, UB North Campus

Program: Reading of works by graduate student composers

Evening concert: Wednesday 3/19, 7:30 – 9:30 pm, Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, UB North Campus

Tickets, which range from $5 to $12 (advance) and $8 to $20 (door), can be purchased in person at UB's Center for the Arts box office, Monday-Friday between 10 am and 6 pm, or by calling the UB Music Department Concert Office at (716) 645-2921.

Irvine Arditti & Ashot Sarkissjan, violin
Ralf Ehlers, viola
Lucas Fels, 'cello


Hilda Paredes: String Quartet No. 2, Cuerdas del destino
Harrison Birtwistle: The Tree of Strings
Conlon Nancarrow: String Quartet No. 3
György Ligeti: Quartet #2

Cuerdas del destino (2007-08) – Hilda Paredes

Cuerdas del destino is my second work for the medium. In this work I have treated the string quartet as a mega instrument, in contrast with my first string quartet written in 1998 in which I treated the instruments as characters who propose and characterize their own material.

In Cuerdas del destino the concept of consequence is the principle from which all materials develop by creating the direction, dramaturgy and structure of the work. The choice of the title (strings of destiny) derives from this. As in many of my recent works, the instrumental treatment in this piece is as important for defining the character of the material, as those harmonic, rhythmic and dynamic parameters.

© Hilda Paredes

The Tree of Strings (2007) – Harrison Birtwistle

Harrison Birtwistle and the Gaelic poet, Sorley McLean, were neighbours on the remote Hebridean island of Raasay in the 1970’s. The Tree of Strings refers to a poem by McLean. “The Tree of Strings” writes McLean, “is in the extremity of grief”. Yet Birtwistle’s piece isn’t descriptive, for the poem is a starting point rather than a goal.

On first hearing, what stands out about The Tree of Strings is the sense of movement. The violins and viola act like points on a triangle, while the cello acts as a bridge between them. There are snatches of quasi-melody, even a quirkily wayward section like a tipsy Charlie Chaplin trying to dance. There are wild passages, such as when Arditti plays sudden, uninhibited flourishes, but the overall mood is understated and restrained, changing directions heralded by subtle intervals.

String Quartet No. 3 (1987) – Conlon Nancarrow

Nancarrow’s String Quartet No. 3 is described by Rutherford-Johnson as ‘possibly Nancarrow’s most significant statement for live performers’. There can be no doubt that this is mature Nancarrow, despite the ‘concessions’, for want of a better word, necessary to render it playable. Once again the primacy of rhythm and canonic writing is audible for the most naïve of first-time listeners. Yet, at a certain point, one can hardly fail also to register the use of other, more obvious ‘string-based’ techniques, and more importantly their expressive content: the harmonics of the second movement, for instance. The music hurtles along, threatening to break down, but never once does for the Arditti Quartet, for whom it was written.

String Quartet No. 2 (1968) – György Ligeti

György Ligeti wrote the second of his two String Quartets in 1968, when he was in his mid-forties and already a noted composer at the forefront of the European avant-garde. In this piece, a unifying theme persists throughout all five movements. However, this theme is not a melody or a leitmotif as an earlier composer might have used to bind a work together. Rather, it is a commitment to an idea of texture: several instruments are engaged in a single texture, wherein they sometimes meld together almost into unanimity, and at other times drift apart and become more distinct from one another, but never lose their textural similarity. Sometimes only two or three voices are involved, but more often it is all four instruments. This “micropolyphonic” technique is the abiding idea of the piece, applied repeatedly across its many changeable atmospheres. Ligeti has said that the Second Quartet is his favorite work from this period in his life.