20th-century string quartets

Sunday 29 April 2018,
Reading Room
Tickets £12
Members/Concessions £8

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

The festival is organised by the British Museum and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and made possible by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Recommend this event

The festival comes to a spectacular close with a concert by the world-renowned Arditti Quartet.

With echoes of the concert at the beginning of the festival, Bartók’s sixth string quartet was written out of the same concern for the fate of Europe as Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen.

Nono’s quartet Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima recalls the meeting with Berio and the Parthenon frieze, and raises questions about the relationship between the present and antiquity.

Hosokawa’s masterpiece Silent Flowers, like Scelsi’s Xnoybis, requires the performers to constantly transform the sound, creating a sense of permanent transformation. While Scelsi is largely concerned with the spiritual realm, Hosokawa’s work is grounded in traditional Japanese arts such as ikebana (flower arranging).

Arditti Quartet
Irvine Arditti violin 1
Ashot Sarkissjan violin 2
Ralf Ehlers viola
Lucas Fels cello

Béla Bartók (1881–1945)
String Quartet No. 6

Toshio Hosokawa (b. 1955)
Silent Flowers

Luigi Nono (1924–1990)
Fragmente-Stille, an Diotoma

The Arditti Quartet enjoys a worldwide reputation for their spirited and technically refined interpretations of contemporary and earlier 20th-century music. Many hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble since its foundation. These works have left a permanent mark on 20th- and 21st-century repertoire and have given the Arditti Quartet a firm place in music history. Their performances and recordings set a unique standard of interpretation. The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpretation. The list of composers they have personally worked with reads like a who’s who. A substantial part of their repertoire is documented on more than 200 CDs featuring the Quartet, released by various labels. Over the past 35 years, the ensemble has received many prizes for its work, the most prestigious being the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, Germany’s Nobel prize equivalent for music, which was awarded in 1999 for ‘lifetime achievement’ in music. This prize has only ever been awarded to individuals and to date the Arditti Quartet is the only ensemble to have received this award.

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Arditti Quartet © Astrid Karger.