09 December 2014

Arditti Quartet

I love modern and contemporary music. So when I saw the calendar in the Berliner Philharmoniker, and saw that the Arditti Quartet was coming to Berlin to perform, I didn't hesitate to buy tickets. After all, the program that night involved names that I never heard before, such as James Clarke, Jonathan Harvey, Julian Anderson, and Gyorgy Kurtag, in addition to Gyorgy Ligeti.

I should say that I haven't heard of any of these pieces at all. They began with James Clarke's String Quartet No. 1, which was written in one movement. This was followed by Jonathan Harvey's String Quartet No. 2, also written in one movement. In my opinion, this was the most impressive of all the pieces that night. Surprisingly, it was the cello who was producing the highest notes in this piece. Before the pause, Julian Anderson's String Quartet No. 2 "300 Christmas Songs" was performed, comprised of 8 movements, and afterward, the composer himself showed up and appeared on stage.

There were about 9 people who left the auditorium before the pause in the middle. I guess they weren't fans of contemporary music. I suppose they just bought tickets as a subscription, and didn't really know what was coming up.

After the pause, there was Gyorgy Kurtag's String Quartet Op. 1. I remember this piece using pencils as bows instead of the traditional bow strings used by the players. But I think I was more impressed by Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet No. 2, which pretty much gave me a new perspective on the string instruments, with his heavy use of polyrhythms and other new techniques.

I definitely enjoyed the music. It was different, new, and intriguing. I will definitely come back for more.


  1. I can never understand people who buy a ticket, come and then leave. People do that at movies too. I mean, may as well stay, no?

    1. Zhu,

      Very true. I think these are people who have expectations about their music, and if the performance does not match their expectations, then they would leave. I rarely, if ever leave, mostly because I do research beforehand about what I would be seeing, but at the same time, I think it is a learning experience to view something you are not familiar with.