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The most recent of his compositions which Rihm called “string quartets” date back a few years already, with a gap in the enumeration still waiting to be filled (the eleventh quartet is missing). Even a cursory comparison of the three works’ beginnings reveals Rihm’s “ability to find new and distinctly characteristic solutions for each piece, which, each in their own way, put a stamp on what is to follow.” (R. Frisius) The gentle pizzicati of Quartet No. 10 and the muted, shadowy chord of No. 12 are pitted against the broadly spanned and only slowly unfurling sounds of the Quartettstudie. What’s most remarkable about the quartets is that their external form never affects the actual listing experience. The sound events themselves are sufficient for the listener to immediately recognize and grasp the “caesuras and breaks, escalations and stases, the assuming of definite shape and the compacting of mass.” The Battaglia and the Follia, which is almost orchestral, clearly stand out from the texture of Quartet No. 10 whose first movement features the spoken “KA-TA”. This phrase, together with the title of the final movement, Strophe, suggests an utterly demure and subdued swan song, even permitting a programmatic interpretation.