Wolfgang-Andreas Schultz


Landscape of Listeners – Four People

String Quartet 3 (2004-05)

Two very different worlds come together in this quartet: on the one hand there is a soundscape which lives by subtle shifts within a mainly steady sound, and which sometimes blends into a flageolet resembling an Aeolian harp; on the other hand there is a story of four people who are represented by four themes, and who experience transformation and development in the story.

The story of the four people also talks about feelings, about loneliness, longing, about happiness and fear, about transformation, and encountered serenity. By stepping out of this emotional story into the rather impersonal soundscape, by pausing and listening, the people experience a distance from their feelings and enmeshments. They step back and, as it were, become observers in the true sense of the Buddhist mindfulness-meditation. Feelings are lived and expressed, but people should not lose themselves in these feelings. This attitude might present a third path between the unbroken emotionality of the 19th, and many of the often impersonal styles of the 20th century.

In the beginning – right after a ritual formula – the soundscape appears. Woven into it, there is an enigma: the themes of the four people – fit into each other – very briefly flare up. Even here, the sound that resembles an Aeolian harp makes one calm and listen carefully.

At the “Lake of the Mourners”, we then find the four people who are still isolated and without relationships to each other: the 1st violin presents the theme of a person who is stamped by great longing and sorrow, and who locks his secret within himself; the cello portraits an energetic, but at the same time very sensitive person; the 2nd violin suggests someone who is superficially rather cheerful and vigorous, but deep inside he is sad; and the viola presents a complicated, tense person who is quite unhappy with himself.

The following episodes talk about places where these people have shared experiences: They are about the “Garden of Lovers”; the “Valley of Demons” where the four people find their individual shadows; the “Forest of Transformation” where – more intensely than in the previous episodes – the motives of the people transform into each other, where identities start to resolve; and finally the “Mountain of Beholding”, the place of serenity after having been through all these experiences. After a last repetition of the ritual formula, the piece vanishes into the sound of the Aeolian harp.