String Quartet 1 'Noli me tangere'


World Premiere :8 October 2009, The Two Moors Festival, Ashburton, Devon

Kuss Quartet


Commissioned by Andreas Haefliger



When I look at Fra Angelico’s painting “Noli me tangere” I see five stages in the meeting of Mary Magdalen with Christ.


The sorrow before the meeting; the meeting itself with a man, whom she takes to be the gardener, leaving her in doubt. When the Lord makes himself known, she is filled with fear, but is nonetheless overcome with joy, though Christ keeps her at a distance with his “noli me tangere” (Do not touch me). Mary Magdalen is left behind in her faith as indicated by her kneeling position and her devoted reaction to Christ’s implied touch.


I have tried to portray these five stages through variations on four chords which introduce the quartet. I extracted a row from each chord, which only shows minimal differences to the preceding one. The progression of chords itself acts as a type of cadence, though the resolving final chord (the “tonica” – faith) is missing from the introduction. This chord is only introduced towards the end as new, previously unheard material.



Score excerpt




Audio excerpt




Mira Wang(1st vl.),Philippe Quint(2nd vl.),Max Mandel(vla),Danjulo Ishizaka(vc.)