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World premiere and German first performance of Gerald Resch‘s String Quartet No. 3 attacca

In the Beethoven anniversary year, Austrian composer Gerald Resch has once again turned his attention to the string quartet genre. In his String Quartet No. 3 attacca he would like to approach the jubilant and great quartet composer like many other composers of our time. The previous work penned by Resch, String Quartet No. 2 Kopien (Copies), was composed in 2017. 

The new string quartet No. 3 „attacca“ has four movements:
- Ritornello: Unisono - Transizioni
- Ritornello: A quattro voci - Perpetuum mobile
- Ritornello Duetti - Arioso
- Ritornello: Canon

The planned premiere of the work was postponed several times. It is now certain that the work, which was commissioned by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Vienna, will be premiered on September 17, 2020 in Basel by the Aris Quartet. The German premiere will take place on September 27, 2020 in Usingen with the same performers.

On the new String Quartet No. 3, Gerald Resch writes: 

“My 3rd quartet is a very special one. String Quartet begins with a finished form: tempo, rhythm and melos are established from the beginning, the two ‚middle‘ strings begin very quietly in a unison texture, gradually violin 1 and cello join in and the four of them play a unison tonal line which seems to repeat itself, but always ‚slides on‘: the sequence of notes remains largely the same, but condenses rhythmically and fills up its gaps increasingly.

The line becomes louder, more exalted, splits up in tonal space, but always remains within a ‚self-similar‘ rhythmic contour. Most of the constellations and motifs that are playfully found in this one-minute ritornello by ‚scanning‘ the melodic line reappear with motivic consistency as the composition progresses. The major form of my 3rd string quartet consists of four movements, each of which is introduced by a ritornello. If this can be followed particularly clearly at the beginning of the 1st movement (ritornello: unisono), its structure becomes more complex with each occurrence.

As an introduction to the second movement (ritornello: A quattro voci), the unisono is broken up into four voices, largely in uniform rhythm. The third movement begins with a ‚Ritornello: Duet‘. In a strong temporal stretch, the original line is now divided into changing constellations of pairs, which are interlocked in the manner of distorted echoes. Finally, in the fourth movement, in ‚Ritornello: Canon‘, the melodic line is broken up into characteristic, strongly rhythmically defined motifs, which, staggered by all four instruments, are linked to themselves can be over- lapped to create a veritable canon. In the main part of the 2nd movement I quote the bizarre beginning of the 2nd movement from Beethoven‘s String Quartet op. 59/1: a characteristically rhythmic repetition of notes in the cello, from which everything that follows is derived in the manner of a perpetuum mobile, without ever losing the continuously rushed motor activity of the 3/8 time (with numerous shifts).

The main part of the third movement is titled Arioso and uses the structure of the second movement from Beethoven‘s op. 18/1 as a matrix. The regular eighth note repetitions of the model work are transformed in my piece into an alternating trivalent and bivalent tone repetition model, whereby my measures ‚wobble‘.

The last movement establishes various ostinati, which combine to form a very lively, motoric texture. After an intermediate section, which imitates the sound of a singing saw by means of continuously rising and falling glissando lines in violins and viola, relics of the movements already played appear increasingly, but in an unpredictably reversed order: a kind of ‚distorted recapitulation‘. After some ritornello fragments also flare up for the last time, an abrupt new kind of music opens up: like a door to a completely new, as yet untrodden space”.

World premiere Gerald Resch, String Quartet No. 3 „attacca“ (Aris Quartet)
- Commissioned work by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien - (closed event of the Paul Sacher Foundation)

German First Performance Gerald Resch, String Quartet No. 3 „attacca“ (Aris Quartet)


Photo of Aris Quartet: © Michael Reh

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