Horatiu Radulescu's Fifth String Quartet, ‘before the universe was born’, is a shining example of his radical compositional approach. With an intense interest in creating a rich, numinous sound-world constructed firmly on principles of nature, science and ancient philosophy, Radulescu developed a unique compositional language that breaks with traditional musical conventions. In hopes of illuminating the inner workings behind his often enigmatic compositional process, this article examines various aspects relating to Radulescu's Fifth Quartet: the work's formal construction, with a focus on its notation and overall large-scale harmonic development; the Quartet's rhythmic devices and their link to the philosophical underpinnings that drive the work; the extended instrumental string techniques employed throughout, the sounds they achieve, and how they are executed; and the work's spectral pitch organisation.
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