Cold Farmer for string quartet (1990)

1st string quartet
WP: 1990, Vienna (AT) | Artis Quartet

mit Groove
ruhige Halbe
sehr schnell
ganz langsam

Audio sample

Rosamunde Quartett | CD IXXU

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Programme note
The string quartet “Cold Farmer”, which was written between June 18 and June 21, 1990, was composed in response to an impulse given by the Artis Quartet.

The names of the movements refer to persons or experiences, or sound sources which in one way or another were present in the composer’s ears and/or head and/or nerves while writing the respective part.

An example would be the trumpeter Franz Hackl, Jr., whose imaginary funk-jazz band Cold Farmers inspired the title of the piece. The motto of the bandleader, Jan Becher, is also alluded to: “Creativity makes you happy if you make sure early enough to have it when you need it.”

The friction, in terms of content, builds up and transforms itself between poles of anarchy, power structures, violence, the destruction of personal domains, resignation …

The technical aspects concerning the construction of the piece have been, the author must admit, forgotten; he simply cannot remember.

Thomas Larcher, quoted from: Program of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna, 1990

The string quartets “IXXU” and “Cold Farmer” are expressions of completely different phases of my life and work, but, in spite of this, they are very closely related.

Composing “Cold Farmer” was somewhat like impulsively tearing myself free of musical conventions and from actual as well as imagined restraints. In connection with this, I also had to break free of people, affiliations, and certain ways of life.

It was like stepping or falling into uncertainty, into a perilous state, an unconditional leap into spontaneity and direct emotion … like gasping for a painful but life-saving breath after having been under water too long.

“IXXU” originated in a completely different way: there seemed no other possibility than to again and again try to free myself from the constraints of my already engrained compositional style, but I found no avenue of escape.

My ‘engrained compositional style’ had manifested itself in the inability to tear free of certain (key) notes (in this and in other cases, d-sharp), in an energy-laden, rhythmic movement which escalated the tempo obsessively in its desire to break loose, as well as in moments of an exhausted, deceptive quietude.

I was only able to complete “IXXU” in three stages, with several years in between each one. At the end of each stage, it was impossible for me to continue with the composition; later, however, I was driven to carry on. The only possibility for doing this was, as I saw it, to proceed on the basis of fragments, striking particles out of “Cold Farmer” that now seem to me to protrude from “IXXU” like solidified columns of lava. Having landed at point zero in my disorientation, I could only begin where I had already been once before.

These relics, subsequently, turned out to be just that and were only comprehensible to me on the surface. Nevertheless, in the end, during a performance a wholly new piece emerges before me.

Thomas Larcher, quoted from: booklet to the CD IXXU