The Arditti Quartet opens up to other instruments, extending their scope to take on works of formal sophistication raising sound color to the level of dramatic art.
Clusters are usually thought to depict or invoke chaos. But in 2009, when Olga Neuwirth composed In the realms of the unreal, her accumulation of quarter tones was in reference to Henry Darger, an American recluse and compulsive writer who was the author of a 15‑thousand page novel where she found the title of her work.
Opening the horizons of the string quartet to other instruments means is a move into the sphere of dramatic art. Cosa resta by Salvatore Sciarrino (2016, for string quartet and countertenor) presents the inventory of the possessions of the Renaissance painter Andrea del Sarto. What is left – “Cosa resta” – is a miscellany, props for a stage set (cloth with an imitation porphyry frame, two gilt leather cushions etc.), so worn, so old-fashioned that they serve no further purpose.
The composition by Hilda Paredes Sortilegio is built around combinations and permutations between the harp and the cimbalom, then moves on to make use of the potential of live electronics. While dramaturgy needs processes, dramatic processes can also fit overtly architectural, or even algebraic operations. Tetras by Iannis Xenakis pursues continual transformations in pitch, using glissandi and scales, and deployed through variations in rhythm, nuance and attack.