SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b.1931): Complete String Quartets - No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 with Tape, Reflections on the Theme B-A-C-H.
Catalogue Number: 04N078
Reference: SU 4078-2
Description: The first quartet (1971) is a tense, uneasy work, described by the composer as originating in a time of conflict. The work involves a theatrical element, with the performers retreating from each other as it progresses, and finally playing independently rather than as an ensemble. Some microtonal embellishments and the extensive use of harmonics expand an otherwise fairly conventional instrumental style consisting largely of detached fragments. Sixteen years later, Gubaidulina received two commissions for quartets. The resulting works suggest a greater sense of cohesion and an emphasis on transformation rather than disintegration. The clustered drones of the second yield to a kind of consonance by the end; the third begins in pizzicato fragments, increasingly textured with bending of tones and unusual playing techniques, before achieving greater linearity first in cluster chords, then resolving into ethereal textures in the highest register. The fourth is the most unorthodox, although it begins with a memorable theme, albeit played by bouncing rubber balls on the strings. As the work progresses, though, a dense counterpoint of quarter-tone harmony is built using the resources of a pre-recorded part, enabling more complex textures than in the previous quartets. Reflections traverses a series of pungently dissonant meditations on Baroque counterpoint before revealing the BACH motif at the end. Stamic Quartet.