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On her portrait recording “earthing” the Berlin-based composer Clara Iannotta concentrates on the genre string quartet. Therefor she takes inspiration mostly from the idea of an underwater world and the small animals that let their luminous organs glow in the deep. The resulting music seems to be under the pressure of water masses but happens in an environment of expanded time. At the beginning of her journey into unknown depths Iannotta works with minimalistic and fragile sounds: ‘They sharpen your sense of hearing, just as eyes can only slowly become accustomed to darkness’. Though at times her music can mount up to enormous and complex structures.

Iannotta finds further inspiration for her quartets in the works of Irish lyric poet Dorothy Molloy and US-American writer David Foster Wallace or in J.S. Bach’s “Partita no. 1 in B minor”. Furthermore, phenomena of the wildlife have an impact on her compositional concepts as she explains to booklet author Theresa Beyer concerning the piece “Earthing – dead wasps (obituary)”: ‘A spider leaves its carapace behind as an empty shell when it’s growing. And suddenly two bodies are lying there – one empty, one filled – and thus two different temporalities. You might say that I composed a string quartet that sheds its skin several times during the performance.’

Sound and noise are represented equally in Clara Iannottas music. Partially, she prepares the strings of the instruments with paper-clips or tunes them down radically. Subtle electronic sounds can be found as well as counter bells, bird whistles, and styrofoam blocks. During the seven years in which the four string quartets have been written, Iannotta gradually leans towards the noise – a process of “earthing”, towards the substance of sounds.

Iannotta considers the string quartet, a genre steeped in history, as a very emotional form: the intimacy between the musicians, the artistic empathy, and intense listening to each other are essential for her music. Recording all four pieces, the JACK Quartet is devoted to this mission as a congenial partner.

A co-oproduction of Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Deutscher Musikrat gemeinnützige Projektgesellschaft mbH.


Dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii) for prepared string quartet and sine waves
You crawl over seas of granite for amplified, detuned string quartet
A Failed Entertainment for string quartet
Earthing – dead wasps (obituary) for prepared string quartet, transducer and electronic


JACK Quartett (Christopher Otto: violin / Austin Wulliman: violin / John Pickford: viola / Jay Campbell: violoncello)

More Information

Nov 15, 2020

List of Best Recordings 4/2020, category Contemporary Music

In the music of the Italian composer Clara Iannotta, conceptual thinking and technique are combined with imagery and subtlety. This is particularly evident in the four-string quartets, interpreted here by the phenomenal Jack Quartet. In the oldest from 2013, the natural sound remains untouched, and it is only enhanced by materials such as bird songs or styrofoam. Sometimes it shimmers sharply, sometimes it scratches darkly. This evocative, mysterious soundscape full of acoustic creatures is electronically amplified and distorted in the newer pieces. A sound full of elemental, deeply moving energy! (for the jury: Thomas Meyer)

Sep 25, 2021

Premio della critica musicale “Franco Abbiati” 2021

57 ′47 ′′

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WER 64332
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More from this series

German Music Council / Contemporary Music Edition

In its renowned Contemporary Music Edition the German Music Council set itself the task of creating a basic listening library of contemporary composition in Germany. The edition is distinguished by the high quality of the performances and of the accompanying texts. It includes recordings by renowned interpreters and ensembles, often under the direction of the composer; the carefully edited booklets present the composers and musicologists in analyses of the works and in aesthetic commentaries. For more information on the composers within the Contemporary Music Edition (including biographies, lists of works and audio samples), please click here.


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