The string quartet is often called music’s highest form. At the same time it’s probably the form which has deepest hung on to the ideal of the sonata form. Not so Aldo Clementi, whose music most often seems like quietly hovering mobiles of quiet expression, almost always in canon form with minimal material used to the outmost — sometimes fragments of Luther psalms, or of composer colleagues from Bellini to Platti, sometimes the song of larches and church chimes.
I count him as one of the most original composers writing today, a master of the glass bead game of the most exclusive kind, one whose music new music favourite Peter Hansen has described as “one who has made the most tired tones laugh and be well, while his contemporaries compete to see who can kill romanticism the fastest.” So it is.
Twelve pieces composed over 40 years were on offer, performed at their very best by the Bozzini Quartet. Almost all the pieces had the character of end note, encompassing both the bitterness of wine turned to vinegar and highest loveliness, as the hope of open doors to heaven. Often there is stillness unto the border of complete silence, but in perfect balance. Clementi’s music encompasses everything, as Bach’s does, but the knowledge that it belongs in the world of today is even more incomprehensible.
An unusually large audience had gathered at Caroli church hall, to experience a high point of all that new art can pass on to us.