Listening Log – [Pt. V]- Mauricio Kagel- Streichquartett I and II (1965-67)

Listening Log – [Pt. V]- Mauricio Kagel- Streichquartett I and II (1965-67)

Listening Log – [Pt. IV]- Mauricio Kagel- Streichquartett I and II (1965-67). Throughout May- July 2020 Listened (download) to digital audio CD : ‘Mauricio Kagel: Pan and String Quartets Nos. 1, 2 & 3. (1990) On: naïve classique. Copyright: ℗ Auvidis © 2000 Auvidis Performer: Arditti String Quartet.

Kagel’s quartets are an onslaught on the senses and a lesson in how to use the instruments to create all manners of sound effects. Various extended techniques are in play… bows bouncing on strings, extremely techniques. Strings rattling. Lots of scraping sounds. Percussive use of the body of the instruments. Very forceful snap pizzicato (reminiscent of, but more extreme than Bartok pizzicato). The recording of the The Arditti Quartet I am listening to has a very deep sounding mix with a lot of spatial movement across the sound field. The sound comes nearer and moves from left to the right in 3D dimensions. The instruments give the impression of moving across the stage. Hits and slaps thunder in my right ear only to scuttle across into the distance to the far left. Sometimes the percussive scraping sounds remind me of the sound a dog’s claws make when running across the wooden floorboards. The violins make a raspy buzzy sound, bringing insects to mind.

On the recording there is an interlude of ‘short piece (1985) for piccolo and string quartet.’ between the quartets. Here the piccolo plays a pastoral melody line with skipping semiquaver runs set against swelling tremolo on violins, giving a distinct countryside impression. The piccolo breaks into a trilling figure, the trills being very rapid sound like birdcalls. Soon everything quiets down while violins play fragile overtone harmonics. This abruptly breaks into a frenetic dialogue between violins and piccolo.

For the second quartet the scraping sounds return. A particularly shrill section follows with more scaping and banging noises and the imagery that comes to mind is a woodwork workshop with saws and hammers After a long scraping section there is a more lyrical section with melodic violin swells. This is however short lived and very quickly reverts back to percussive sounds and sound effects.

Because of Kagel’s reputation for often instructing his players to give a very theatrical performance I also wanted to watch a video-ed performance. I have included a YouTube clip below with a performance of ‘Streichquartett II’ by Quatuor Bozzini in Canada in 2017. In the clip you can see various strange techniques, including the kissing of the cello at around 8.30 min.

Listening Log – [Pt. V]- Mauricio Kagel- Streichquartett I (1965-1967). 14.38 min. Throughout May- July 2020 Listened (streaming) to youtube clip above : Mauricio Kagel Streichquartett II (1965/67) Quatuor Bozzini Apr 3, 2018 On: AdRev for Rights Holder. Performer: Quatuor Bozzini Clemens Merkel, Alissa Cheung, violons Stéphanie Bozzini, alto Isabelle Bozzini, violoncelle John Klepko, ingénieur de son Michael Slobodian, Huei Lin, vidéastes