• Bent Sørensen
  • Angels' Music (1988)
    (String Quartet no. 3)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • str4tet
  • 16 min

Programme Note

Even when I was writing Adieu, I knew that I wished to write Angel’s Music. The title existed in an incomplete form in my mind and gradually more and more ideas and a few outlines became clear.

The actual work on Angel’s Music was started in Rome, where I spent the autumn of 1987 staying at "The Danish Academy". Whether this stay has influenced the quartet or not is impossible to say. however, it is true to say that, in the Roman churches I visited, I saw countless angels playing in the top of frescoes and altars. Without these angels, together with the many crackled-gold paintings in this city and my general fascination with the Italian renaissance painter Fra Angelico, (in fact there are only a few paintings by him in Rome, but even his name..!) I am not sure my quartet would have been what it is.

Anyway I do feel that there is a bit of Italy in the piece. The angels apart there are, in the short rhythmic agitating part of the quartet, reminiscences of the Italian medieval Trotto dance, and in the most expressive part of the piece there are flashes of Puccini-like music.

From the very beginning of my work on the quartet, the distant, extremely muted sound in the high register which opens the piece, was on my mind. A sound satiated with a dense heterophonic and polyphonic texture of elegiac melody and vibrating trills. I imagined that "little songs" (maybe angel songs) could be created in this density, these songs constantly echoing themselves. Gradually as this sound got a more and more concrete musical and instrumental form, I felt, that not only should the "little songs" be created, played and die out in an echo, but also that the general pattern of the quartet should give the feeling of music which, from the distance, is getting closer and closer, culminates and at last disappears like an echo. Related to this, the general pattern of Angel’s Music is divided into three: a pre-echo, culmination and echo.. The relationship between the three part is 5: 6: 4. The reason why I can say this precisely and prosaically is that it was necessary to me to mark the overall guidelines before I started to compose. I had to do this in order to enable the relationships to crawl from the general pattern almost fractionally into the smallest cells of the music, or more correctly; crawl from the small cells into the general pattern.

- Bent Sørensen


String Quartet No. 3, "Angels' Music": Angels' Music
From Scandinavia: I. Angel's Music