Premiere of Johannes X. Schachtner’s String Quartet No. 3 “vor Anker”

On 2 November 2020, the Zentaur Quartet is to perform the world premiere of String Quartet No. 3 “vor Anker” in Munich. The Zentaur Quartet is a young string quartet from Munich, dedicated primarily to contemporary music. The four young musicians formulate their fields of activity as follows: “To do works of our time, in direct collaboration with composers and our own ambition to perform stylistically diverse music at a high level as an ensemble.” 

Schachtner has presented three string quartets to date, about which he comments: “My first compositional engagement with the challenging string quartet genre took place in 2008, while still a student. For a string quartet around the violinist Julia Fischer, I composed a one-movement quartet in which the tone ‘a’ is the point of departure, escape and rest, returning in a ritornello like manner, while in between there are joke-like episodes. This quartet was given the title ‘alpha’ after the premiere. A particular challenge for the string quartet are the two violins: after overcoming the classical-romantic compositional technique, these forces of attraction have been lost, and the tonal individuality comes to the foreground - so after my first string quartet, the two string trios that followed were very instructive in this development process.  

I chose a special arrangement for my second-string quartet: the second violin is tuned down by a quarter tone throughout, giving it a special role. All four movements of the ‘quasi-una-serenata’ quartet refer to a movement form that determines the character of the movement. The spectrum of expression ranges from the dancing first movement (‘floating_) to the gripping second movement (‘rigid’) and - due to the scordatura of the second violin - the almost morbid vocal movement (‘hesitating’) to the spherical last movement (‘dreaming’), which conciliates the work with a ‘cello serenade’ accompanied by the high strings. 

Immediately afterwards, reconciled with the quartet formation, a third string quartet entitled at anchor (at anchor) was formed, which is very close in content to the hymn for piano four hands ‘pacifico’. When a ship lies ‘vor Anker’, the ship is in a state between freedom at sea and safety in port. One experiences the forces of the water but is not directly exposed to them. This floating state is the starting point of my string quartet ‘vor Anker’, in which Franz Schubert’s ‘sea silence’ is invoked again and again.” 

WP John X. Schachtner, 
String quartet no. 3 “vor Anker” (at anchor)
(Zentaur Quartet)

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