Arts-Scène Diffusion

Quatuor Akilone


Resonances of a century in motion


A Polish composer and traveller with deep roots in his homeland, Szymanowski is a fascinating representative of his time: his evolving musical interests point in a direction of changing styles and influences that emerge through his unique and original voice.

His influences include Chopin, the late Romantic music of Strauss and Mahler, the Second Viennese School with Schönberg, Webern and Berg, the music of Bartók and Stravinsky, and that of Debussy and Ravel. He was fascinated by the Orient and the Mediterranean and in his later years, under the influence of fashionable Polish nationalism, by the traditional and indigenous music of the Tatras, the highest mountain range in the Carpathians.

He composed his First Quartet in 1917 following numerous trips. In the finale of this three-movement quartet, originally conceived as a four-movement work with a fugue (the October Revolution would not allow him to write it), Szymanowski creates a burlesque dialogue between the instruments in polytonality, with each instrument linking its own key to those of the others, with sarcastic humour, only to find themselves together again, in a beautiful clownish pirouette, in C Major at the end of the movement.

Anton Webern also moved with the times and radically changed his way of conceiving music, in Vienna, accompanied by Schoenberg. Inspired by a romantic holiday in the Viennese mountains, he wrote his Langsamer Satz, a Brahmsian and Wagnerian legacy that is close to Schönberg's Transfigured Night.

With his Bagatelles op.9, a masterpiece of the genre, he turned to shorter, lighter forms, inspired by the Baroque and breaking away from an overly cumbersome past. A music of essence and aphorism, the poetic climax of the musical gesture, like the brevity and density of a Haïku.

Ravel, although different in style, draws his formal inspiration from Debussy in this string quartet. Considered a "Swiss watchmaker" by Stravinsky in his search for formal perfection in composition, Ravel was a contemporary of Webern and Szymanowski and drew on the interplay of timbre and colour, where the ineffable rubbed shoulders with the power of a limpid formal structure.

The cross-fertilization of inspiration, from outside and within, is the soil of these three works which reflect both a search for openness and the traces of a heritage that is sometimes heavy to bear. These works bear witness to a world undergoing profound change, in which they themselves are actors and whose echoes of foreign sounds are the saving grace.

A century that resounds in our ears, filled with an inventiveness marked by a need to find other paradigms of thought in a world to be reinvented. A burning topicality!


Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)
Langsamer Satz (1905)    9'

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
String Quartet n.1 op.37    18'

Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)
Six Bagatelles op.9    5' 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
String quartet in F major    32'


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