|Luigi Nono's only score for string quartet, Fragmente-Stille, An Diotima already expresses at the very beginning of the 1980s, with its ample phrases made up of fragments mingled with long-held notes and drawn-our silences, that "tragedy of listening" that haunts the composer's last works -- a world both crepuscular and ethereal, shot through with shadows and fleeting sensations, and a meditation on the "eternal silent brightness" of the poet Friedrich Hölderlin.
Nono's only string quartet, "Fragments and Silence," ushered in Nono's "late period," when he moved toward a more subdued form of subversion, forcing listeners to listen intently, taking nothing for granted. As performed by the Arditti Quartet, the piece is startling -- sounds you have never heard before. Fragmented sounds regularly negated by silence, negated in turn by new sounds, reforming, turning, creating something new out of nothing, out of chaos...
In turning away from more overt politics, Nono can be seen as retreating, but he saw the works of his late period as more deeply radical, challenging the basic perceptions and assumptions of the commodified society. He effected a rapprochement with Boulez -- I wonder to what extent he realized that his '80s work moves toward the aesthetic position of his Darmstadt collaborators of the '50s who he had previously denounced for their apolitical stance?
"Hay que caminar" for two violins is also available on the recently re-released DG 20/21 Echo disc, performed by Gidon Kremer and Tatiana Gridenko. I prefer this original recording -- as I said in my review of the DG disc: "The Arditti/Alberman version has more silence, more extreme dynamics, and conveys a sense of being utterly, existentially lost. You might say it emphasizes that there is "no path," while [the Kremer/Gridenko version] emphasizes that nonetheless "we must walk."