«Jörg Widmann: Streichquartette (String Quartets)”
180 Beats Per Minute,
Versuch über die Fuge: 5. Streichquartett mit Sopran,
String Quartet No. 3 'Jagdquartett',
Choralquartett: 2. Streichquartett,
The composer Jorg Widmann is also a gifted and sought-after clarinettist, a virtuoso who embodies something that today cannot be taken for granted. As a practising musician, he is constantly dealing with musical tradition. It is therefore only natural that this experience influences his composing. However, he does not attempt to simply cultivate a tradition or even continue it unchanged; instead, he calls it into question in a radical way. When in many of his pieces “traditional” tonal materials encounter an arsenal of newly developed playing techniques and noise-like sounds, this is not simply an expansion of compositional materials or just bald opposition. Rather, the relationship between the musical elements, whether historical or contemporary, is defined anew in each piece. This particularly applies to the string quartet. Very few composers dealing with this genre in recent times have been able to completely ignore its overpowering tradition. Widmann, however, has not only examined the string quartet, he has also taken up certain classical types of movements – a different one in each quartet. In this way, he prolonged his involvement with the genre over a period of eight years with a series of five quartets, which, though they are independent pieces, can also be viewed as a large work in five movements.
The cycle of the five string quartets is juxtaposed with two early works by Widmann: As early as 1990, he wrote a short movement for string quartet as part of his school opera “Absences” (revised in 1993). The string sextet “180 Beats per Minute” (1993) – the title comes from the piece’s tempo indication – is inspired by the fast pulses of techno music.
“It is a great pleasure for me that, seven years after the first complete recording of my string quartets, the Minguet Quartet now offers a second recording. We have worked together closely for many years, particularly on these five quartets. The Minguet Quartet has also repeatedly played my quartets as a cycle on a single evening. This ensemble is therefore quite familiar as to how the individual quartets complement, contradict, and relate to each other dramaturgically.” (Widmann)