String Quartet No.4 was composed by Hans Abrahamsen in 2012. Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk and Wigmore Hall For the Arditti Quartet.
The basic idea for my Fourth String Quartet was very clear to me: It should be quiet and soft music or to put it in a german term: "hoch im Himmel gesungen ..." (”High singing in heaven…”). Each of the four movements has a different scordatura/pitch. The first movement begins – like my work ”Schnee” – sky-high with an airy and soft melody by the first violin. The second movement is fast and ”movement and joy”-like. It consists of two duets and a reverse style counterpoint. While the sections were progressively longer in the first movement they are getting shorter and shorter in the second. ”Dark, heavy and earthy” is the third movement and its pizzicato recalls big black raindrops falling to the ground. It is the dark and grainy counterpart to the first movement whereas the fourth movement corresponds to the second. The fourth movement was planned as a dark and heavy counterpart but it turned out to be like ”babbling” music of a child. My Fourth String Quartet has become in its way a serene and cool piece. So the Quartet has been finished luckyly after twenty years – it was already in 1990 that I was commissioned by Wittener Tage für Neue Musik to write the piece for Arditti Quartet.