BARBARA HELLER (b.1936): String Quartet 1958, La Caleta (String Quartet No. 2), Patchwork (String Quartet No. 3) (Verdi Quartet), Eins für Zwei and Zwiegespräche for Violin and Cello, Herbstmusik and Lalai - Schlaflied zum Wachwerden? for Cello and Piano, Arriba! and Minutentrios for Piano Trio (Susanne Stoodt [violin], Katharina Deserno [cello], Gesa Lücker [piano]).
Catalogue Number: 02S079
Reference: WER 5123 2
Description: Despite a taste for restlessly experimenting with sounds and styles, and having lived and worked in Darmstadt for decades, Heller seems to have resisted the lure of the avant-garde throughout her career, restricting her evolving and increasingly personal idiom to readily accessible fields of musical expression. The 1958 Quartet is a conventional, four-movement work, indebted to Hindemithian neoclassicism and harmony, and Bartókian rhythmic alacrity. The two subsequent quartets, both from 2008, are quite different (and strongly contrasting); by this time the composer had adopted limited pitch sets and intervals as the building blocks of her music, and the second depicts a calm seascape in four-note cells of close intervals, producing pungent dissonances but adhering to a kind of 'new simplicity", while the third is playful, based on whole-tone scales with suggestions of the Baroque and post-minimalism. This work is an example of the kind of subtle experimentation in which the composer delights; the performers can choose to play the piece in a lively tempo, or a more moderate, meditative mood. The latest works, from the past few years - the trio, short duos and trios and Herbstmusik (in memory of Harald Genzmer, with whom she studied) - mark a shift toward an even more neo-romantic vocabulary, the whole-tone scales remaining a key feature, while Lalai, a work of unexpected emotional weight, consists of variations on a Persian lullaby, in protesting memory of women imprisoned and murdered in Iran.