Schott Music

Skip to Main Content »

2016/12/05

Work of the Week – Krzysztof Penderecki: Quartetto per archi no. 4

On 11 December 2016, Krzysztof Penderecki´s Quartetto per archi no. 4 will receive its world premiere at Wigmore Hall, London by the Belcea Quartet, for whom the work was written. The work was commissioned by Wigmore Hall, London with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Foundation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation; Flagey, Brussels; Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical, Madrid; the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music programme and with the support of the Belcea Charitable Trust.

The compositional history of Penderecki’s four major string quartets is marked by a significant interruption: the first two experimental, improvisatory quartets were composed in swift succession in the 1960s, while the third and fourth quartets followed substantially later, but were also written in relatively quick succession in the years 2008 and 2016. The quartet cycle as a whole exemplifies the composer’s two distinctive creative phases, highlighting a stylistic shift which is rare in the history of music. The very short unnumbered quartet Der unterbrochene Gedanke (“The Interrupted Thought”), written in 1988 in the middle of the ‘quartet break’, could be seen as Penderecki’s commentary on this shift.

The best time for composing is before breakfast – the mind feels so fresh at this time. I usually get up at 6 am, when everybody else is still sleeping, and I start to write. To express myself through music is perhaps my only way to stay in contact with the outside world. But it’s also a great deal of fun, composing makes my day, otherwise I wouldn’t have written so many pieces. – Krzysztof Penderecki

Further performances by the Belcea Quartet of Quartetto per archi no. 4 include the Spanish premiere a the Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid (13 Dec) and the Belgium premiere at the Flagey, Brussels (15 Dec).