Maarten Altena

Five Short Pieces for String Quartet

15' | Maarten Altena | Mondriaan Kwartet | September 2019

Link to compositions

Five Short Pieces for String Quartet

A Clear Midnight

2'28" | Maarten Altena | Text Walt Whitman | Metropole Orchestra | Conductor Jurrien Hempel | Soloist Claron McFadden | November 7, 2008

A Clear Midnight
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, 
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, 
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. 
Night, sleep, and the stars.

La belle dame sans merci | Keats II

11'36" | Maarten Altena | Text: John Keats | Nederlands Kamerorkest | Conductor René Gulikers | Soloist Susan Narucki | May 30, 1998

La Belle Dame Sans Merci
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?   
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,   
And no birds sing.   
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!          
So haggard and so woe-begone?   
The squirrel’s granary is full,   
And the harvest’s done.   
I see a lily on thy brow   
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose   
Fast withereth too.   
I met a lady in the meads,   
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,   
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.   

I made a garland for her head,   
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;   
She look’d at me as she did love,   
And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,   
And nothing else saw all day long,   
For sidelong would she bend, and sing   
A faery’s song.
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,   
And sure in language strange she said—    
“I love thee true.”   

She took me to her elfin grot,   
And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes   
With kisses four.   

And there she lulled me asleep,   
And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!   
The latest dream I ever dream’d
On the cold hill’s side.   

I saw pale kings and princes too,   
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;   
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci   
Hath thee in thrall!”     

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,   
With horrid warning gaped wide,   
And I awoke and found me here,   
On the cold hill’s side.   

And this is why I sojourn here,   
Alone and palely loitering,   
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,   
And no birds sing.



5'36" | Maarten Altena Ensemble (2005)


10'23" | Maarten Altena Ensemble (2005)

Slow Motion [version 1993]

11'41" | Maarten Altena Ensemble (1995)