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String Quartets Nos. 7, 8 and 9 suggest that Rihm has finally left behind the neo-romantic expressive pathos of earlier compositions: “Real or virtual allusions to the past are rarely to be found any more – and the same holds of the luscious and revelling strings. Remnants of tonal harmony are, with a few exceptions, almost completely obliterated. … Instead, new constellations come to the fore, emancipated from traditional conceptions of sound – heeding, in particular, the principle of polarity of sound and noise.” (Rudolf Frisius) In Quartet No. 7, for instance, one player replaces his instrument with a woodblock several times. Even a voice makes repeated appearances in the piece. In Quartet No. 8, Rihm uses a scream, along with noises made with paper and pen, as means of expression. And the sound of Quartet No. 9 is dominated by clusters occurring in melodically and rhythmically vibrant soundscapes. The “continumm between sound and noise” is the common denominator the three quartets share, each of them in their own special way. “Vibrant and freely developing music thus arises from the forces of change and contrast, of abrupt cuts and of exhilarating developments pulling the listener along.