Onutė Narbutaitė

just strings and a light wind above them

Year of composition: 2017
Duration: 11′
Instrumentation: 2vn-va-vc

CD Onutė Narbutaitė. Music for String Quartet. - NoBusiness Records, NBCD-CC2, 2020

Commissioned by Kronos Quartet and Kronos Performing Art Association, for  Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire.
First performance: Kronos Quartet, Elbphilharmonie, Internationales Musikfest Hamburg, May 8, 2018.

Programme note:
It was composed for the Kronos Quartet project Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. This fragment of time, which lasts about 11 minutes, is like a purposeless observation of an empty landscape. Most probably of an imagined landscape in which nothing happens, only the vibrations of the changing light and a light wind agitate the stretched strings and modulate their shades of colour.

The range of musical expression – articulation, dynamics, texture – is very limited, in some respects even quite elementary. The most variable thing is the timbre. What dominates in the harmony is the interaction of scarcely more than a few intervals, the perfect fifth, native to a quartet's instruments, and the tritone, rising up from the occasionally used whole tone scale, but in the palpitating textures sometimes similar to the rippling reflection of the perfect fifth in a crooked mirror. Movement and stasis are illusory. The movement of the surface does not lead anywhere, on the other hand the externally static parts do not create the feeling of calm balance.

It may be that a detached glance through an unstable, occasionally transparent, occasionally obscured image reaches further. After all, what lies most often behind aimlessness is contemplation, and a limitation is simply the consequence of limitlessness.

After a multifaceted experience comes a need for a decrease, a pause, an emptying. In 2016 I wrote a composition for piano called In the Emptiness. This particular composition for quartet extends the line connected with the polysemous line of emptiness, a line that marks my present time.

Onutė Narbutaitė
Translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka

Audio sample

just strings and a light wind above them