• From Apartment House 1776 • Arranged by Irvine Arditti (of the noted Arditti Quartet) from the original for orchestra • Score and parts sold separately • Recorded on Mode 144/145
The 44 Harmonies are based on early American music by Supply Belcher, William Billings, Jacob French, Andrew Law and James Lyon. Said Cage, they are “anthems and congregational music written by composers who were at least twenty years old at the time of the American Revolution.
Says Arditti: “I had become familiar with 13 of the movements of Harmonies in an arrangement by Roger Zahab, which I had played not with piano, but with accordion…. I had experienced great difficulty in rehearsals ‘tuning’ with the accordion as the timbral qualities of the two instruments were so very different.
“When I looked at the original score of Harmonies, I saw that the open harmonies of this almost medieval looking score lent itself perfectly to the homogenous sound of a string quartet. I knew that these 18th century harmonies in part surrounded by silence, removed much of its ‘flesh’ sometimes down to the bones of one part, would sound well with the Arditti Quartet’s non vibrato playing.
Cage said of these harmonies, ‘the cadences and everything disappear, but the flavor remained. You can recognize it as 18th century music, but it’s suddenly brilliant in a new way’. The challenge for us in performance was to be able to take up the ‘threads’ of the music and follow each piece through, even though the score sometimes looked as if someone had spilled some eraser fluid over large sections of it. It was a very satisfying and therapeutic work to transcribe these anthems and hymns for string instruments. What a perfect way to pay homage to Cage by ‘realising’ another work for string quartet.”