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FRIEDA BERTELSOHN MARTHOLDY (1878 – 1907​)​: STREICHQUARTETTE - Entschlummern sollst Du, sollst entschlummern

by Baldrian Quartett



The Baldrian Quartett has established a unique position for itself in the contemporary music world. Coming from the classical repertoire they later sharpened their skills and senses in modern as well as early music practices. Their recent concert programs and releases show a new and unprecedented approach. The four virtuosos reveal unheard sounds from the past. While the quality of their interpretations is second to none, we must also acknowledge their role as true archaeologists of early avant-garde music introducing outsider figures that add invaluable parts to the puzzle of musical evolution. This new album Entschlummern sollst du, sollst entschlummern (engl.: Thou shall slumber, slumber, shall thou) brings us the first ever released recordings of four string quartets by Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy (1878 - 1907), a composer yet unknown to most of us. The first listening makes undoubtedly clear what an original voice as a composer and what an astonishing achievement from the performers we are witnessing here. Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdys thoroughly modern sounding music fluently integrates a pronounced romantic quality, completely innocent of any of the aesthetic conflicts that 20th century music later challenged providing a candidly bewildering and enriching listening experience. Against the background of it’s origin this music can today be celebrated as a musical sensation. Who would have ever guessed that such a sonic universe could have been created at the end of the 19th century - all four string quartets were composed in 1895 and 1896 - by a young woman in her teenage years? Next to the listening pleasures, it is heartbreaking to read about Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy’s life in the trilingual 16-page booklet accompanying this CD. In three short essays musicologists Dr. Georgette Oberwies, Inge Salesianer and Franz von Brandenburg introduce us to her music and a life way too short and yet full of hardships and despair, which, in the end, turned out to be unbearable for this sensitive creative mind. The oppression she faced forced her into a new sonic language, though it came at a high price for the young composer. Her music - full of anticipation of practices we have only seen later in the second half of the 20th century – was ignored and rejected at the time and it seems a late reparation that we are now able to acknowledge and appreciate the remarkable music of Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy. This CD documents recordings of the Baldrian Quartett’s highly praised live performance at the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria as well as studio recordings from the historical Huguenin Studios in Biel, Switzerland.

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"Entschlummern sollst du, sollst entschlummern" (bRUit) lässt zur großen Freude jedes an EchtzeitMusik Interessierten die Kompositionen der bis dato selbst Experten unbekannten Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy (1878–1907) knarzen, knistern und fiepen. Auch das artwork und das bei meiner digitalen Version leider fehlende, sicher aber ganz großartige, weil (bestimmt hoch informative) Essays von so berühmten Musikologen wie Dr. Georgette Oberwies, Inge Salesianer und Franz von Brandenburg enthaltende booklet verdienen Erwähnung, sind sie doch Zeichen eines ausgeprägten SchrägHumors."
(Karsten Zimalla, Westzeit)

"Und unstrittig erklingen da vier Stücke, die vor einem schlimmer noch als Effi-Briest'schen Schicksal in outsider-genialem Wahn 100 Jahre in die Jetztzeit chronoportiert sind. Neben dem Titelstück künden 'Schaurig empfundene Nähe' und 'Ode für den Tod (Fragment)' von einem heimlichen Protest gegen Ehezwang und Kinderzweck. Badrutt und Kocher, die beiden mikrobRUitistischen Neutöner, retten mit Fagaschinski von The International Nothing, The Elks und The Dogmatics, der seinerseits mit Kurzmann und dessen Schnee-Ästhetik und Made-To-Breakness vertraut ist durch The Magic I.D., diese Fluchtversuche in die Musik vor dem Vergessensein."
(Rigobert Dittman, Bad Alchemy)

"Baldrian Quartett does a great job of coming up with a story. It's a pity that we have Google to check, I guess. The story is all about a young, sensitive woman composing this in the last of the 19th century and how she made all this new, unheard music. The four-string quartets from here are performed by Gaudenz Badrutt (electronics), Kai Fagaschinski (clarinet), Jonas Kocher (accordion) and Christof Kurzmann (electronics); no strings on a piece of wood here. That, maybe, is also saying something. You could think of this as an exciting way to sell your improvised music."
(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly)

"Und wenn dann nichts mehr geht, brummt uns das Baldrian Quartett in den Schlaf. Entschlummern sollst du, sollst entschlummern (bRUit, 10. Juni) desavouiert den heiligen Ernst der improvisierten Neuen Musik wie den der alten Neuen Musik in der kongenialen Aufführungspraxis der frei improvisierten Synthesizerkompositionen der Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy aus dem späten 19. Jahrhundert in Form eines zeitgenössischen Streichquartetts – selbstverständlich ohne Streicher."
(Franck P. Eckert, groove.de)

"...is to be understood as a shrewd commentary on personality archaeology in the field of classical and contemporary music, which tends to forget the present over too many new discoveries of supposedly forgotten voices. Or as four compositions that dissolve the boundaries between electronic and contemporary music, so as very contemporary and by no means institutionalised art."
(Release of the Month, Field Notes, Berlin)

"A tongue-in-cheek album packaged like a Deutsche Grammophon release of a string quartet by fictional composer Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdys (1878-1907), which is instead a superb live ea-improv performance at the 2018 Music Unlimited Festival in Austria"
(Squidco, USA)

"Goliardia in accademia! Avete mai ascoltato, chessò, quei programmi di Radio3, tipo La Barcaccia, dove si parla di lirica, e i due speaker fanno battute che capiscono solo loro? Ridono, e tu ti chiedi perché. O sei un melomane che conosce tutte le opere, o non afferri gli scherzi. Ecco, lo scherzo qui inizia dalla copertina. Loro si chiamano Baldrian Quartett, e guardando la copertina del loro album (uscito per la bRUit Records), si intuisce che siano un quartetto d'archi. Ma ascolti le tracce, e non c'è nessun violino!"
(Gilberto Ongaro, www.musicmap.it)

"The cover of the album of Baldrian Quartett mocks the iconic covers of the esteemed classical music label Deutsche Grammophon. The Baldrian Quartett even claims to resurrect for the first time ever on records the forgotten four string quartets of the mysterious composer Frieda Bertelsohn Martholdy of the early avant-garde, “a composer yet unknown to most of us” (and the only details about her are found in the Bandcamp page of the bRUit, and apparently she lived quite a short life (1878-1907)). But the Baldrian Quartett is not a chamber string quartet as the cover art suggests."
(Eyal Haruveni, The Free Jazz Collective)

"...rather contemporary affair, gravitating to a realm of brittle Minimal Ambient / Minimal Music rather than towards Modern or Contemporary Classical which might also be suggested by the albums artwork which pays homage to the classic layout of record companies like Deutsche Grammophon with the opening title track being comprised of fragile high frequency dronings, electroacoustic movements and what seem to be computational bleeps of a retrofuturist nature as well as extended periods of near silence..."

"In einer Hinsicht zumindest ist der Titel hundertprozentig korrekt gewählt. Denn so still, wie die sich oft kaum merklich ändernden Töne und Frequenzen hier schwingen, könnte sich beim Hören durchaus ein Zustand äußerer wie innerer Ruhe einstellen."
(Tim Caspar Boehm, Taz.de / berlinmusik)

"Composée à l’origine pour un quatuor à cordes, Baldrian Quartett s’est appropriée l’œuvre, pour en livrer une lecture contemporaine à l’intensité électrique. Ici, électronique, accordéon et clarinette, nous projettent dans un labyrinthe d’émotions fragiles et de dissonances voyageuses, traversant l’espace pour se rompre à l’orée de cœurs brisés. On est captivé par la narration sereine à la dangerosité permanente , croisement de sensations fluctuantes aux expérimentations déviées de leur trajectoire. Superbe."
(Roland Torres, Silence and Sound)

"Nee, deze vier stukken zijn in alles de muziek van nu, gespeeld door vier uitstekende musici die zowel thuis zijn in het gecomponeerde repertoire als in de vrije improvisatie."
(Ben Taffjin, Niewenoten.nl)


released May 29, 2022

Baldrian Quartett
Gaudenz Badrutt, live electronics
Kai Fagaschinski, clarinet
Jonas Kocher, accordion
Christof Kurzmann, electronics

Recorded live on November 10th, 2018 at Music Unlimited Festival,
MedienKulturHaus Wels, Austria (1, 3) and on November 5th, 2018
at Huguenin Studios, Biel, Switzerland
Recording Supervision: Boris Schuld (1, 3) and Ganzedu Ratbudt (2, 4)
Editing and Mixing: Ganzedu Ratbudt and Schiftor Nuznmark
Mastering: Giuseppe Ielasi

Design: Alitaneh Lens

Production supervisor: Aki Ksaginaschfi
Kindly supported by SKE/austro mechana




Bruit Biel/Bienne, Switzerland

Bruit promotes sound activities based on improvisation, experimentation and interdisciplinarity

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