Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin / KNM Berlin

Beat Furrer: Streichquartett Nr. 3

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Swiss composer Beat Furrer (born 1954) is a stalwart proponent of European modernism, both as a composer and a conductor. He is the founder of Klangforum Wein, one of the most accomplished European new music ensembles, and he has produced a large body of work in a variety of genres, from chamber music to large-scale music theater works. His Third String Quartet is uncompromising in its demands on performers and listeners. In the program notes, Marie Luise Maintz aptly describes the work's opening as "a state of paralysis; toneless grinding, individual hard and high notes, dry, dripping, knocking, vibrating -- isolated sounds occurring in a seemingly random way." The quartet ultimately gathers momentum and generates a sense of forward movement, but the vocabulary of sparse and ghostly sounds that Maintz describes applies, for the most part, to the whole work. An exception is the gradual introduction, finally audible in fragments at the end of the quartet, of a 1542 Protestant chorale in G major, based on a text from Psalm 22, "You hear me not; at night I find no peace, for you conceal, as much as it pains me, your countenance." The quote certainly captures the bleak nihilism that characterizes the piece. Written in a single movement, the quartet receives a committed performance from members of the new music ensemble KNM Berlin. Kairos' sound is immaculately clean, detailed, and vibrant.

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