'Everything is oblique, yet magically allusive, full of rapt and raptuorous string effects.' The Guardian


Score 0571515185 and parts 0571554938 on sale

Programme Notes

I Venezia notturno
II Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schon
III Auf dem Wasser zu singen
IV Et… (tango mortale)
V L’Embarquement
VI O Albion
VII Lethe

Six of the seven titles which comprise Arcadiana evoke various vanished or vanishing ‘idylls’. The odd-numbered movements are all aquatic, and would splice if played consecutively. I might be the ballad of some lugubrious gondolier; III takes a title and a figuration from a Schubert Lied; in V a ship is seen swirling away to L’Isle Joyeuse; VII is the River of Oblivion.

The second and sixth movements inhabit pastoral Arcadias, respectively: Mozart’s ‘Kingdom of Night’, and more local fields. The joker in this pack is the fourth movement, the literal dead centre: Poussin’s tomb bearing the inscription Even in Arcady am I.

Arcadiana was commissioned by the Endellion Quartet with funds from the Holst Foundation.


'Arcadiana, Adès’s first string quartet, remains one of his most engaging pieces, the brilliance offset by tenderness, even the odd, quickly-brushed-away tear of sentimentality.'
Financial Times (Richard Fairman), 27 March 2017

'The idyllic and the terrifying are closely intertwined here. One moment dark, sliding string figures evoke a dance of death; the next is a serene paean to England in slow, gracefully consonant chordal passages.'
New York Times (Allan Kozinn), 19 February 1999

'Adès’ originality lies in his exceptional ability to absorb and transform found objects in a language that sounds like no-one else’s.'
Chicago Tribune (John von Rhein), 15 November 1999
'Arcadiana, a suite for string quartet, includes a surpassingly lovely movement entitled ‘O Albion’ that bears only the slightest trace of youthful irony. Impossibly it all works. The thorniest textures are executed with extreme lucidity: the lyric stretches are genuinely tuneful; the whole weird succession of events makes perplexing sense.'
The New York Times (Alex Ross), 2 July 1995
'Most importantly, the indefinable suchness of these seven portraits saves them from being pastiches. They all have an indescribable but indisputable ‘layer’ covering them, some smouldering or decaying process forced upon our modern minds as we try to deal with this distant stuff. All inherent sweetness in the piece seems to be penetrated with a kind of mould – always, though, expressed with a supreme instrumental virtuosity… Thus, I believe, is ‘distance’ achieved: like music from an ever-departing ship, where the passengers in their innocent pastimes may (or may not) know that they are doomed. Not surprisingly, these features leave slightly melancholic impressions; but also a mark of beauty, of indisputable suchness.'
Per Nørgård – ISCM speech, 2002
'From the opening 'Venezia Notturno', we are in a bygone world of weird spectral phenomena The Arditti beautifully captured that aura of the ungraspable, not least in the final two movements: 'Albion', with its almost Mahlerian sonoroties filtered through a distorting prism, and the fragmented Lethe.'
The Times (Barry Millington), 23 April 2001


Theaters Tilburg (Tilburg, Netherlands)

Barbicanqua kwartet


No.6 only. Saffron Hall 10th Birthday

Saffron Hall (Saffron Walden, Essex, United Kingdom)

Thomas Gould/Britten Sinfonia


O Albion only

Duke's Hall, Royal Academy of Music (London, United Kingdom)

Lawrence Power/Royal Academy of Music Students


22 Mansfield Street (London, United Kingdom)

Barbican Quartet


Stevenson Hall (Sitka , AK, USA)

Calder Quartet