2004 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Arditti String Quartet, which once again demonstrates its commitment to the advancement of New Music--this time by the young German Matthias Pintscher (b. 1971).
For the discerning listener of New Music, this disc offers both substance and style. Winter & Winter's packaging is exquisite and attractive (although I haven't figured out why the booklet offers nine blank pages followed by two pages of track and publisher information, when brief liner notes or at least some biographical information--especially in the case of a young composer--would be helpful not only in giving context to the works performed but also in establishing a base listenership).
The selection of pieces is interesting: Figura I-V is a rare (perhaps unique) "accordion quintet" whose sound is haunted by the ghost of Xenakis. The accordion participates only in two movements--with the quartet in I and by itself in III--and the rarified sound it contributes to the piece is unlike anything you're likely to have heard: at times it so blends into the sound of the strings that it's practically transparent, then at other times making itself known in sharp relief. The music is exquisite and virtuosic, as Teodoro Anzellotti manipulates the accordion's sounds to morph into all kinds of noise (at one point it seems to make the sound of fluttering bird wings--a sound that is both distressing and fascinating).
Pintscher's Fourth Quartet, "Ritratto di Gesualdo," is (to make perhaps useless comparisons) reminiscent of both Scelsi and Lachenmann. Like all good music, from any period, this piece is constantly surprising, and repeated listening reveals ever greater depths and insight.Read more ›
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This set of music by Matthias Pintscher (b. 1971), one of the most prominent of younger German composers, was recorded in 2000 and released in 2004. It is more abstract and difficult than the other Pintscher works I've heard, and can be recommended mainly for the virtuosity of the Arditti Quartet and accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti.
The title work, "Figura I-V" (1997-2000 -- 32'16) is for accordion and string quartet, but only the first Figure includes all five instruments. Figures II and IV are for string quartet, Figure III is for accordion, and Figure V is for cello, played by Rohan de Saram, who would depart the quartet a few years later. The "String Quartet No. 4" (1992 -- 23'42) is the earliest of the three works. And the third piece, "Dernier Espace Avec Introspecteur" (1994 -- 22'19) is a duet for accordion and cello.
Overall, these works are ponderous, slow-moving, and episodic -- interesting, but only episodically. There is lots of space, and the periodic eruption. All three pieces are too long to sustain the listener's attention. The performers are virtuosos, and Pintscher's writing gives them chances to demonstrate that here and there. Anzellotti in particular produces a bewildering variety of sounds, sometimes blending with high-pitched tones from the strings.
The package is seriously sub-standard. Rather than a plastic platform for the disc, it has a bulky cardboard sleeve of the sort briefly in vogue with a few German companies several years ago. There are no liner notes at all, despite the presence of a 10-page booklet. Instead of text, the pages are printed with color ink blotches.Read more ›
This Winter & Winter release from 2004 sees the Arditti String Quartet collaborating with virtuoso accordionist Theori Anzelloti in pieces by Matthias Pintscher. At the time these recordings were made, the lineup of the Arditt Quartet was Irvine Arditti and Graeme Jennings (violins), Dov Scheindlin (viola) and Rohan de Saram (cello).
When the pieces here were written, Pintscher was less than 30 years old and his music was still entirely within the influence of his German forebears in the avant-garde. The "French" touch of later works is missing here. The String Quartet No. 4 "Ritratto di Gesualdo" (1992), "Dernier espace avec introspecteur" for accordion and cello (1994) and "Figura I-V" for accordion and string quartet (1997-200) consist of the low dynamics, longheld notes and sparseness of material that fans of modernist music will recognize from the works of Lachenmann, Rihm (in the late 1980s) and Ligeti (the Second String Quartet).
Pintscher is almost slavishly imitating the sources of his inspiration here, which makes it hard to rate this disc too highly. Still, for lovers of this particular aesthetic, the pieces do feel decently crafted. There is a real sense of space here and the interplay of the instruments does not seem arbitrary (as I feel it does, for example, in many of Luigi Nono's late works). Both the String Quartet and "Dernier espace avec introspecteur" end with a novel sound source hitherto unheard -- I'll say no more in order to avoid spoiling the surprise.