With the world premiere of my first string quartet Degli eroici furori, commissioned by Internationales Beethovenfest Bonn 2002, I have built up a very special relationship with the extraordinary performers of the work: the Artemis quartet. This 'complicity', which developed around the music that was performed together with my quartet on that occasion, Beethoven and Nono, has grown over time to include cante hondo and has gone beyond the strictly musical to become that unique gift that is friendship.
Artemis is therefore the fruit of a common musical experience and the wonder and gratitude stemming from that serene, intense friendship. In strictly musical terms, we could mention our attempt at creating a new musical instrument based on an ancient musical praxis: Flamenco. Our first steps involved spectrum analysis of the voices of ancient flamenco songs, particularly in the Toná and Martinete forms (two of the most ancient and intense forms of cante hondo). We then created (recreated, reinterpreted and reinvented) lines with the dramatic quality of those songs – with an infinite palette of micro-qualities in the sound – with a 'spectrum' or spirit (harmonic structure) that was created or formed by producing shadow and light as 'fractal' reflections of the image itself. A string quartet that turns into an imaginary Flamenco voice, but also with a virtual percussion instrument (without ever actually striking or hitting the body of the instrument itself), with direct references to the sound of the Indian tabla.
Formal space or, even, poetic exploration is the path from the 'breath' or the informal – that which has not yet been created– with echoes of the sea: the murmur of the air or the 'breathing' of the waves (as Alberti said, "Sea: an immense sky fallen from the heavens"), up to the tremendous voice or groaning song, a shout or 'quejío' (cry), which then becomes a rapid stony rhythm (un rêve de pierre – the dream of a stone) and then comes back in resonance with what was a vibrant voice, thrust out, puffed out, in silence, in the open, as open as possible.
A second version of this work includes the voice of a cantaor (singer) with the title: Audéeis, vocal version.
Mauricio Sotelo, Madrid, 31 August 2004