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Quatuor Umlaut was founded in 2020 by violinists Amaryllis Billet and Anna Jalving, with the aim of taking the string quartet format into the sound spaces of today’s music. This first recording is the opportunity to work with Joris Rühl and to form a quintet with clarinet.
If the record is called Calques [the word “Calques” in French has several meanings : it evokes the tracing paper and its transparent nature that enables the light to go through, as well as the notions of layers and reproduction], after Karl Naegelen’s quintet, it is because this word describes an issue shared with Morton Feldman’s quintet. In these pieces, each in their own way, the two composers play with the sound planes, using effects of transparency and fusion of tones. Karl Naegelen and Morton Feldman both question the relationship between the clarinet’s sound and the string quartet’s ; both of them are seeking at times to emphasize their heterogeneity, at times to erase it, and in general to walk along the continuum that links these two extremes. Although they share a research on these questions of transparency and fusion of sounds, these two pieces are nevertheless motivated by very different concerns.
Calques is a reduction of the material of the clarinet concerto created by Joris Rühl and the orchestra ONCEIM. It is built around a zooming rela- tionship between the clarinet part and the string quartet. As if the string quartet was trying to recreate the sound of the clarinet on a grand scale, and in particular the sound of multiphonics slowly evolving thanks to circular breathing.
Clarinet and string quartet is sometimes made up of homogeneous textures, avoiding this effect of the clarinet in the fore- ground, and sometimes of others where in the opposite the singularity of the clarinet is assumed. This dualism between camouflage and salience seems to us to constitute one of the singular flavour of this score.