Susann Wehrli
Priska Walss
Claudia Ulla Binder
Gabriela Friedli





















Music can stir me, lull me, give me wings, annoy, relax, entertain, bore, change my mood, fill me with energy....
The music of Quatre Têtes never leaves me unmoved; it always takes me somewhere, right into it with enthusiam, with interest on the edge, sceptical to a certain degree: It draws me directly into the conversations of four abstract, very different characters, who inhabit a world full of mysterious landscapes, bizarre spaces and surprising topography. As though emerging from a novel by Stanislaw Lem, these beings change form and shape; new languages are invented and later discarded, ambiguous gestures remind one of earlier meanings, awaken dreamlike associations. I hear the voices of animals whose bodies I can only guess at, I sway to curious dances from other climatic zones, perceive charming moments of a folk music quality, but fractured, alienated, disappearing just as quickly as they surface.
Quatre Têtes is a utopian project: Four women – en-route together since 2004 – playing music on the fringe of conventional listening habits, associating freely on two grand pianos and several wind instruments, of which the smallest would fit inside the largest a hundred times over.
From 440 strings, from alphorn, trombone, flute, melodica and piccolo they explore the sounding bodies from outside and inside. They examine the sound itself, its variability and power of expression, across melodiousness and conventional patterns. They research material, figures und motives, form und movement, static and dynamic, as each develops her own flow of playing.
Although concepts are dispensed with, the main theme at play is the Duo: two and two interchanging, two extended by two, dynamic interdependence and its abrupt interruption, unity and conflict of two pairs in ever changing association. This is no coincidence: originally two duos, – on the one hand, the Duo Frappant with Gabriela Friedli and Priska Walss (recorded on the CD „Intervista“, Intakt 087), and on the other, Claudia Ulla Binder and Susann Wehrli – , meeting one another in a project during „Zürcher Stadtsommer 2004“. Since then they have worked together in close continuity.
Quatre Têtes – above all, are also four independent Musicians in the contemporary music scene. Their paths in education - and further training – as is often the case with women – do not necessarily run in straight lines, but rather meander between studies and the practical, jobs und further education. Indeed this may be significant in the formation of such strong and contrasting characters.
Gabriela Friedli applies deliberate accents, mixes dark, idiosyncratic colours and, with long breaths, devises large spreads of tension. She is a master of the complex rhythm. From multiple overlying layers, tension as well as directness is created: A movement, that at the same time is both quick and slow can develop in all directions. Thus she always achieves new possibilities of relationships and points of contact in the shared playing ambience.
Claudia Ulla Binder, no less conscious of form, shows a great clarity in the development of musical situations. She immerses herself with abandon in the moment without losing the overview. As the reliable partner, she brings coherence to the enterprise, in which role she acts quickly and with precision. Researcher of the inside of the grand piano, she surprises with alien, previously unheard sounds, that make the inclusion of electronics completely unnecessary.
Susann Wehrli offers bewitching and varying sounds from different flutes, that sometimes sound airy as a shakuhachi or a shepherd’s flute, and then back to a clear balanced sound in the classical sense. She also persuades with enthralling melody and an unbelievably relaxed playing style. A clear lightness of being, which proves not to be superficial.
Priska Walss is the unpredictable one who, with emotional gestures, provides increasingly surprising moments. She attacks, pauses, lays out dynamic stresses, disrupts and lashes out in new directions. Thus she delights with a very personal, dark, warm sound. Whether on the trombone or Alphorn, she has her own language and, through her playing, develops and tells narratives with a vocal quality.

15.1. 2009 Co Streiff