The idea of arranging Janáček’s two string quartets for string orchestra has implicated two different approaches for me. The first is timbral; while the quartets’ ever-changing dramatics make it challenging to ‘resonate’ with the solo instruments in a string quartet, the collective sound of the orchestra adds a new dimension to the music.
The other approach was to incorporate Leo Tolstoy´s novella The Kreutzer Sonata into Janáček’s music of the same name, and thereby introduce a new form of drama.
In his quartet, Janáček does not follow the storyline of Tolstoy’s novella as closely as Arnold Schoenberg once did with his musical setting of Richard Dehmel’s poem, Verklärte Nacht. However Janáček’s writing brings on intense emotions with strong linguistic and theatrical gestures, which, in my opinion, would be further reinforced in direct connection with the novella.
Tentatively, we introduced a selection of quotes from the novella in our concerts and this eventually led to the idea of developing a radio drama performance. In this arrangement, the quartet’s four movements are performed in their entirety, ‘strategically’ positioned in four crucial points in the story, while parts of the music also serve as a dramatic foundation for the text.
In the process of text adaptation, the novella´s plot and emotional aspects were given priority over its philosophical considerations.
- Terje Tønnesen, arranger / Artistic Director