John Cage & Consequences

Arditti Quartet

John Cage & Consequences

Arditti Quartet

Arditti Quartet

© Philippe Gontier

Past Dates

Since its foundation in 1974 the Arditti Quartet has specialised in 20th century and contemporary music. Many composers, among them John Cage and his companions, have entrusted the Arditti Quartet with their works. At MaerzMusik the ensemble presents works which, from different perspectives, represent »primordial cells« of a specific notion of minimalist sound processes – whether musical, physical, spatial or poetic.

John Cage was so impressed by the Arditti Quartet that he realised Music for Four together with the ensemble for the Cage Festival at Wesleyan University in 1988 and had it perform the premiere. The Music for Four score consists of four fully notated voices to be played entirely independently of one another. The musicians determine the temporal sequences with stop watches. Special elements of this work are the use of microtonality and the spatial positioning of the musicians, who sit far apart or turned away from one another in order to encourage the independence of the voices.
Navigations for Strings (1991) by experimental composer Alvin Lucier was also dedicated to the Arditti Quartet. The piece, inspired by atmospheric tones, consists of a small melodic cell that is gradually compressed to a single pitch that moves microtonally, imperceptibly as it were, through the acoustic space. The Five Small Pieces for String Quartet (1956) by La Monte Young are the first works that the musician composed in the twelve-tone technique modelled after Anton Webern. At the same time, they show the beginnings of a development towards minimalism and his so-called »Dream Chords«.
A further representative of minimal music is Terry Jennings and his String Quartet (1960), with only a handful of pitches and chords held for a long time between piano and pianissimo.
Visas (1985/1987), the three literature-inspired Episodes for String Quartet by Italian contrabass virtuoso and composer Stefano Scodanibbio, who died in January 2012, also bear witness to a minimalist manner of composing that concentrates predominantly on quietly progressing and multidimensional sound processes.

Terry Jennings
String Quartet (1960)
La Monte Young
On remembering a naiad
five small pieces for string quartet (1956)
Alvin Lucier
Navigations for Strings (1991)
Stefano Scodanibbio
three episodes for string quartet (1985/1987)
John Cage
Music for Four (1987, rev. 1988)

Arditti Quartet:
Irvine Arditti, violin
Ashot Sarkissjan, violin
Ralph Ehlers, viola
Lucas Fels, cello

In collaboration with DAAD: Artists-in-Residence programme