holzschnitt for 14 strings (2008)

Instrumentation: Strings (4-4-3-2-1)

Duration: ca. 11‘

Publisher: Schott Music

FP: Jan 25, 2009, Berlin (UltraSchall-Festival)
Ensemble Resonanz, cond.: Jonathan Stockhammer

Further performances:

Oct 10, 2010, Dresden
Nov 18, 2011, Amsterdam (Dutch Premiere, Ensemble Resonanz/Peter Rundel)
May 10, 2014, Nürnberg
May 11, 2014, Bamberg

Radio broadcasts:

Jan 25, 2009, DeutschlandRadio Kultur
Nov 18, 2011, Nederlands Radio

Commissioned by DeutschlandRadio Kultur


Inspired by writers from the OuLiPo group (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), but also by films like Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructions or the Dogma films, I started to conceive a series of compositions each of which follows a set of strict regulations or obstructions.
The intention is – similarly to the OuLiPo writers‘ striving for „enhancement of language through formal restrictions“ – to unleash a special creativity inside of these restrictions and in dealing with the self-imposed „obstructions, resulting in strictness as well as intensity.
These obstructions or contraintes are, however, not technically or formally in the first place, but result also from the nature of the chosen instrumentation and the desired character of the respective composition.

holzschnitt renounces any of the „extended techniques“, especially such of noisy alienation that have become a standard in advanced music for string instruments – it only uses ordinary arco and pizzicato sounds (with some harmonics and quarter tones). I was attracted by the idea to re-explore the „regular“, succinct string sound yet writing up-to-date, individually characteristic music using this „old-fashioned“ sound material. The monochromous sound of a string orchestra draws the attention towards substance and structures between asceticism and hidden opulence. The title refers to the material of the instruments as well as to a musical gesture in which clear cuts rather than transitions dominate, but also to the powerful and distinctive expression of a woodcut.