Luigi Nono

Fragmente: Stille, an Diotima

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Diotima was Socrates' teacher, and is associated with the concept of time. Performed by the Arditti String Quartet, this music is guided by lines from Holderlin's famous poem, which are present only as an unspoken meditation and guidepost written into the score in 52 places. Nono poses the fundamental questions "Where am I, and who am I?" by examining old music and memories from the distant past as producers of both pain and hope. The composer seeks to "externalize as fully as possible that which has been internalized...." He concludes, "That is what matters today." In writing this music for the Beethoven Festival in Bonn, Nono used Beethoven's piano sonata instruction "mit innigster empfindung" (roughly, "with innermost searching of the heart") to imply a readiness to break out of the habitual and "into the open air." This quartet produces a positive sensation that has been also used as an instruction in several of John Cage's works: "Play until you feel the presence of silence." There is also a lovely performance by the LaSalle Quartet on Deutsche Grammaphon 415 513-2 (issued in 1986), which you may also want to check out.