String quartets / Arnold Schönberg
Emerson String Quartet
String Quartet II: Air from another planet
- Duration 2h, one interval
It was not merely the investigation of unknown harmonies with which the string quartet pioneered the path to Modernity. It was also the fascination of its composers for language and song. The deathly ill Beethoven had already confided in his sketches that he regarded the third movement of his final quartet to be a “Ruhegesang” or “Friedensgesang” (song of rest or peace). Arnold Schönberg expanded the instrumental ensemble by introducing the same vocal element into the genre of the string quartet that Beethoven had attempted in his final symphony: he added vocal parts to his own, epoch-making Second String Quartet that contains the famous words “I feel air from another planet”. Barbara Hannigan and the Emerson String Quartet also pursue the new question raised here of what the string quartet can say, sing and tellingly conceal in works by Schönberg’s pupils: Webern’s aphoristic “Drei Stücken” (Three Pieces) and, last but not least, Berg’s “Lyrical Suite”.