upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned (2001) - BINAURAL

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Performed by the Arditti Quartet on Nov 1st, 2001 at Konzerthaus Vienna during the festival Wien modern. Binaural recording - listen with headphones! http://www.essl.at/works/upward.html In his story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges tells of a fictional culture whose language has no nouns at all: "There is no word that corresponds to the word 'moon', but there is a verb that would be 'lunare' in Latin or ‘to moon' in our language. ‘The moon rose above the river’ reads: blör u fang axaxcas mlö or in exact order of the words: 'Empor hinter dauer-fließen mondet'es (Xul Solar translates in a short form: upa tras perfluyue lunó. Upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned)." In this language, the simplest statements can only be expressed through complicated grammatical constructions, which are, however, full of poetry and magic, as in the example quoted above, to which my quartet owes its title. The string quartet has always been regarded as the supreme discipline of composition and a place of musical experimentation: four equal individuals - embodied by four string instruments - enter into a musical discourse, as if "four reasonable people are talking to each other", as Goethe once remarked. But what happens if this (sound) language no longer functions unconditionally because it has been stripped from one of its most essential elements - the nouns? This paradoxical question fascinated me immensely when I began composing my third string quartet. In this piece I abandoned melodic formulations, which - as the epitome of the thematic - once functioned as the nouns of a musical language. This deliberately chosen constraint (which I learned from the French poet Georges Perec, who wrote an entire novel without the letter 'e') I considered less as a restriction than as a liberation from certain musical clichés that still cling to the genre of the string quartet. In this piece I concentrated only on a few basic elements: long stretched drones, moving textures, pulsations and expressive sound eruptions. Like an alchemist in his laboratory, I allowed a plethora of musical figures to sprout, which are artfuyll interwoven in order to obtain a maximum of expressive sound intensity.

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