These Four quartets were written in the fall of 1994 at the request of the "Manuel de Falla" quartet, to which they are dedicated and premiered on June 15, 1996, in the courtyard of the Castle of Manzanares el Real (Madrid).
The ensemble made up of four Corni di Bassetto offers the current composer not only the particularity of an old timbre -little used nowadays and, therefore, novel-, but also the attractiveness of the multiple problems that derive from the use of four equal instruments.
The Corno di Bassetto
Personally, I opted for a statistically equivalent protagonism of the four performers, which allows a treatment of the material that, evenly distributed among the four Corni, sometimes reaches extreme pulverisation, becoming practically unidentifiable to the eye in the score, but recomposing, as if by magic, in the audition.
On the other hand, this fragmentation of the material and its subsequent distribution among the four instruments entails a previous desire for each instrumentalist to incorporate their own personality, their sound and their character, which, although they must be logically integrated into the ensemble, will always retain their own characteristics.
Dedication of T. S. Eliot in the first page of the first edition of the Four Quartets (1943)
The work is structured in four contrasting sections, through which a binding material circulates, treated in unison, with which the work opens and closes. And as in many of my works, in these Cuatro cuartetos the title is not intended to be a capricious play on words on the number four, but attempts to establish a strong link with a literary work that serves as a formal and aesthetic reference: the Four Quartets by T. S. Elliot, and specifically the following stanza, with which the score opens:
... ... Only by the form, the patron,
can words or music reach
the stillness, as a chinese jar still
moves perpetually in its stillness.
T. S. Elliot: "Four Quartets" (I, V)
The Four Quartets have undergone numerous adaptations and arrangements, since, in addition to being performed by four bass clarinets, in 2004 they became the Octeto de agua (Water Octet), for wind octet, and in 2012 Cañas y Garbo (Reeds and Grace), for reed quintet. In 2018, and again under the name of Cuatro cuartetos, they were arranged for saxophone quartet, with the premiere taking place in Badajoz on December 11, 2018 by the "Folium fugit" quartet. And in 2020 they adopted the form of a wind quintet with the title of Quinteto de agua (Water Quintet).
Program of the premiere of the version for saxophon quartet of the Cuatro Cuartetos
First page of the original version for quartet of Corni di Bassetto of the Cuatro Cuartetos
First page of the version for saxophone quartet of the Cuatro Cuartetos
Recording Recording of the saxophone quartet version: Quartet Folium Fugit
The saxophone quartet "Folium fugit"
Grabación versión cuarteto de clarinetes bajos: cuarteto de clarinetes de la Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid