Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen
String Quartet no. 8, 'Ground' (1986),
Works for 2-6 Players
The title of my eighth strig quartet GROUND has been chosen for two reasons: partly because it refers to an English baroque form which is characterized by a constantly repeated bass line, and partly because the meaning of the word in an everyday sense creates a beautiful termination of the series of four string quartets which it thus closes: Step by Step (1982), Parting (1983), Parted (1984), and Ground (1986).
I had originally imagined it to be a calm movement, flowing broadly and partly mildly requiem-ish, partly 'earthy'. And that is saying far too much. And it did not turn out that way either.
However, a kind of Ground remained:
A continuously repeated 35 bar rhythm foundation (constructed of polyrhythms), an equilibrium in a limited number of tones, a continously repeated harmonic sequence (modulationg between four different symmetrically arranged levels) and an overall form of a bow, consisting of many small bows.
The many constantly abridging, condensing and intensifying sequences - spanning the first seven minutes of the quartet - are straining for the medium of the dynamically limited string quartet; the quartet playing has a really difficult job.
For this reason I consider this quartet an experiment. Is it at all posibble to drag this obstinate form home and get music out of it?