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Per Nørgård

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Strygekvartet nr. 9 - Ind i kilden (2001)
Work Notes
Bestilt af Orion og Vertavo
Wilhelm Hansen
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
String Quartet
Year Composed
20 Minutes

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Programme Note
Per Nørgård Strygekvartet nr. 9 - Ind i kilden (2001)


Preface / Programme Note

The three movements of the quartet may be perceived as three different expressions of an unstable core: an inherent unrest leads to frequent changes of direction. The first movement is full of dramatic contrasts; it is followed by a second movement, whose basic mood of meditative rest is challenged by occasional centrifugal outbursts, while the third movement takes the inherent conflicts to a higher level, contrasting material of introspective lyricism with excessively pathetic moods.

The final “way out” is a retrograde one, (back) “into the source”: through a constant accelerando-diminuendo the piece disappears into a vanishing point. The “into the source” of the title may be visualized as a reversed fountain-action: the broad fan-like spread of the first movement, a more coherent-solid second movement, and finally - in the third movement - a return-run, ever more vehemently, like a suction into the spring itself …

The musical motifs are varied; there are traffic-situations (which I heard!) with stomping and machine-like rhythms in different, but simultaneous tempi, and there are more abstract upwards and downwards half-tone-scales, with changing accents, creating glimpses of melodies.

INTO THE SOURCE, String Quartet No. 9, was composed on a double-commission from the Orion Quartet and the Vertavo Quartet. The premiere performances took places in Santa Fé in 2002 and in Oslo in 2003.

Per Nørgård


The title points to a paradoxical feature which I noticed at an early stage of the composition: “moving into a source” pictures two directional opposites, in a state of permanent collision. Similarly, the development of my STRING QUARTET NO. 9 may be characterized as one continous exploration of its very beginning - digging always deeper into its premises, getting closer to its musical headspring, manifesting an interlocking double-spiral of ascending and descending quasi-chromatical scale-fragments, combined with another spiral of always increasing tempi.

Before this (point of departure!) is exposed in the last minutes of the quartet, a tripartite development has focused on various aspects of the musical origins. Most obvious, perhaps, in the unisono start of the 1. movement, later revealing itself as being composed of three highly different melodic shapes, in equally different tempi.

The 2. movement explores, in a dream-like slowmotion, the more subtle melodic and harmonic aspects of this ongoing process of unveiling.

The 3. movement, after a hesitating start, prepares for the final intrusion into the vortex, ... into the source.

Per Nørgård, May 2001

  • Ensemble
    Kroger Kvartetten
    Alexander Øllgaard (violin), Maj Kullberg (violin), Sanna Ripatti (viola), Jakob Kullberg (cello)
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