Darkness and Light in the Shape of a String Quartet (February 1, 2018)
Written by Cristina Fernandes
Published by Público
In collaboration with the Paris Philharmonie String Quartet Biennale, the Calouste Gulbenkian Orchestra showcased between January 27 and 29 the String Quartet Festival, during which it was possible to listen to six high-quality ensembles in a succession of enticing programs, featuring works composed between the eighteenth century and the twenty-first century. Since it became a paradigmatic formation during the Classical era, the string quartet has remained a privileged medium for the creativity of composers, who frequently dare to cross more adventurous and personal paths when approaching this type of instrumental group.
That the string quartet remains a source of infinite challenges in our day became evident during the JACK Quartet concert, a North American group specialized in contemporary music. Its performance in Lisbon featured the world premiere of String Quartet No. 1, Unvanquished Space, a commission of the Gulbenkian Foundation by Andreia Pinto Correia (1971), a Portuguese composer residing in the United States where she has been developing a very successful career. The regular contact with the JACK Quartet, to whom each movement is dedicated, demonstrated a close relationship between creator and interpreter that translated to control of very idiomatic writing for the string quartet. Multiple resources in rhythm and harmony are ingeniously articulated, contributing to arresting atmospheres and diversified sound coloring.
As in other works by Andreia Pinto Correia, the source beyond the sound construction is a literary one. In this case, the epic poem The Bridge, by Hart Crane (1899-1932), a text traversed by labyrinthine references and metaphors related to the American experience. According to the composer, String Quartet No. 1 is inspired by the fourth chapter – Cape Hatteras (located in North Carolina) – which refers to the ” gleaming cantos of unvanquished space”.