Current Listening: Lachenmann’s String Quartets from Arditti Quartet


When I first discovered Helmut Lachenmann’s music, my ears didn’t know what to do. There is not much that can be considered “conventional” in his works. Nevertheless, I believe that Lachenmann is a very important composer of our time (his birthday was actually just 2 days ago, on November 27th). This disc here from the Kairos label presents his three string quartets, performed by the brilliant Arditti String Quartet.

Lachenmann’s string quartets, like the rest of his oeuvre, utilize many unconventional playing techniques, producing strange and often harsh sounds. The pieces here are presented in reverse order, starting with the third string quartet Grido, then the second quartet Reigen seliger Geister, and lastly, the first quartet Gran Torso. The Arditti String Quartet gives very good performances of these works in general. The sound quality is excellent; every detail can be heard very clearly. I have recently bought a copy of the JACK Quartet playing these works too, so I will have to listen to that and compare it with this one.

My final thought? If you’re not a big fan of contemporary music, stay away from this one. Otherwise, recommended.


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