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Rihm - Orchestral Works

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Product details

  • Conductor: Hans Zender, Michael Gielen, Jan Latham Koenig
  • Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
  • Audio CD (5 Mar. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Haenssler
  • ASIN: B000O5B514
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,829 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Music for Oboe and OrchestraAlexander Ott16:22Album Only
Listen  2. Styx and LetheLucas Fels23:45Album Only
Listen  3. Dritte MusikGottfried Schneider17:54Album Only
Listen  4. Erster DoppelgesangHirofumi Fukai14:04Album Only

Product Description

BBC Review

Wolfgang Rihm was born in 1952, and since the 1970s he's become a major part of post-war Germany's musical re-orientation. Rihm gradually turned away from using rigorous systems and structures to generate compositions, seeking instead expressive immediacy. Which is not to say that there's not a complex exploration of harmony, dynamics and rhythm; Rihm is not one of those seeking a new simplicity - but he embraces the unexpected, looking for a directional freedom that celebrates the unforeseen. As Rihm puts it himself: 'it's not what's systematically derived but what arrives unexpectedly that gives life to art.'

The H�nssler Classic label has just launched a Wolfgang Rihm Edition, an ambitious undertaking given the rate at which Rihm composes - and that at the age of 55 he's definitely not slowing down. Volume one has just arrived, works dating from 1980's Erster Doppelgesang, a double concerto for viola cello and orchestra, which has what Rihm calls a 'covert choreography!Rimbaud and Verlaine on the banks of the Neckar River - perfectly imaginable.' But this is the poetry of violence, and Rihm admits that the shattering side-drum outbursts that destroy the ending were composed 'from the depths of a wretchedly quaking uncertainty.'

Dark waters also run through the most impressive work on the disc: Styx and Lethe for cello and orchestra, named after two rivers of the Underworld. The Styx - the River of No Return, where the shades of the dead gathered to seek passage to the afterlife from the ferryman, Charon - and the Lethe: the River of Forgetfulness, for once you'd drunk its waters, you were left with no memory for the rest of eternity. Rihm's cello concerto was composed for the 1998 Donaueschingen Festival and cellist Lucas Fels; the disc proclaims this as the world premier performance, with Hans Zender conducting the Southwest German Radio Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg. Rihm was asked for programme notes for the first performance, which he obviously didn't want to provide!and instead what the festival organisers got was an amusing, satirical reaction to being forced to write notes for his music. But it's worth saying that the Underworld river reference gives more than a clue to the nature of the way the work flows, and the deep surges of malevolent energy that sustain it. The recording is as darkly gripping as the performance.

Two other concertos complete the disc: Music for Oboe and Orchestra, from the early 90s, re-defined by a long solo oboe introduction Rihm added in 2002!and Dritte Musik for violin and orchestra, in memory of an artist friend whose paintings Rihm says he often listened to - from their innermost chords to their surface sounds. He's interested in breaking down barriers between the arts: 'Am I a writer when I try to set up characters in music?', Rihm asks!to which the answer after hearing such a colourfully-staged drama and haunting epilogue has to be 'yes'.

'Music must be full of emotion, the emotion full of complexity' Rihm wrote in 1974!and these four first recordings are ample proof that it's an imperative he's been satisfying with brilliance and rare imagination ever since.

This recording is Disc Of The Week on Radio 3's CD Review --Andrew McGregor

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nobody TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Aug. 2012
Format: Audio CD
The four concertante pieces on this this recording are a good place to start exploring Wolfgang Rihm's orchestral music. Though they may appear to vary stylistically they do have much in common. All four appear to create their own formal logic. This formal searching is similar to Boulez but there is a more traditional musical rhetoric at work, albeit in a mercurial fashion that engages with tonality at times with references to other styles and music that is far more sublimated and integrated than is the case in, say, Alfred Schnittke's work. Rihm strives for overt expression and emotional complexity. All of these four works deliver this mercurial directness very well.

Solo instruments and thematic threads are often highlighted, as they are with virtuosic brilliance in his "Jagden und Formen". These four works differ markedly from that because they mood of the emotional landscape tends to shift within these pieces almost seamlessly whereas "Jagden un Formen" is almost uniformly driven high speed music.

The opening piece, "Music for Oboe and Orchestra" has an extended slow section; lyrical but spare and austere before it drifts into rather surprising, quick, jaunty and even cheeky dance rhythms that lead the piece to its concluding chord, which sounds like a subtle raspberry if there is such a thing.

"Styx und Lette" for Cello and Orchestra starts in more urgent fashion with very dark undertones: it is the darkest and most substantial work here. The music alternates tempos but menace and foreboding predominates up to its frenetic conclusion.

"Dritte Music" for Violin and Orchestra is very much a dialogue between the soloist and other instrumental sections such as the bongo, marimba, congas and percussion in particular.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Four concertos, the best Rihm yet on disc! 23 Jun. 2007
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This Hanssler disc bears the title RIHM-EDITION, VOL. 1. This is great news for admirers of Rihm's music, and the Edition is off to an amazing start with this collection of four concertos from the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg, with conductors Michael Gielen and Hans Zender. I recommend this disc without reservation to anyone who is curious about the prolific contemporary German composer -- it instantly becomes the best introduction to Rihm.

Concertos, it seems to me, often provide an accessible doorway to a composer's work. The foregrounding of a solo line over an orchestral counterpart can be easier to follow than the complex structures of, say, symphonies or string quartets. This set of Rihm concertos is a fantastic example of the principle, in any event. All four are either world premieres, or world premiere recordings, or both.

The first, "Musik fur Oboe und Orchester" (16'19" -- 1995/2002) is the least intimidating of the four. Alexander Ott plays the lovely solo part, which is melodic in the best romantic tradition. Some will not doubt see this as Rihm mellowing and making a neoclassical turn, but it is a beautiful piece in its own right. It works toward an energetic and humorous climax. "Styx und Lethe: Musik fur Violoncello und Orchester" (23'34" -- 1997/1998) is the most impressive of the four concertos, and features Lucas Fels on cello. It is a very dense work, but utterly fascinating in its complexity. Rihm describes it as being like "over-packed suitcases." Like the oboe concerto, the cello concerto concludes with frantic energy. Together, they stand as two chapters of a story, beginning light and carefree, and turning dark and tormented. Hans Zender leads the SWR Symphony Orchestra in live performances of both pieces.

"Dritte Musik fur Violine und Orchester" (17'42 -- 1993) features Gottfried Schneider on violin and Michael Gielen as conductor. Finally, "Erster Doppelgesang: Musik fur Viola, Violoncello und Orchester" (14'04" -- 1980) is the earliest work included, and the only one recorded in the studio. Jan Latham-Koenig conducts, Hirofumi Fukai plays viola, and Walter Grimmer plays cello. These string concertos maintain the high level of music. The "Doppelsegang" is a striking work with several strong tonal passages that emerge as out of storm clouds, and it concludes with percussion beating down the strings al Schnittke. Rihm, who wrote it in Rome, says "[i]n April the war cries were ringing out louder and louder. Why should it not be said? The drum, small and malicious has to do with it. The singing is over." Apparently referring to the intensifying Cold War confrontation of the time, this is the most political comment I have run across from Rihm.

Hanssler retroactively identifies KLANGBESCHREIBUNG (2001) and TUTUGURI (2003) as part of the Rihm- Edition. VOLUME TWO has since been released, with three 1970s orchestral works -- see my review, and now VOLUME THREE, with a mix of orchestral and choral works.

I look forward to future releases in Hanssler's Rihm-Edition without reservation!

(verified purchase from a record shop near Dupont Circle in Washington D.C.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Four concertos of concentrated expression and virtuoso demands 29 July 2008
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With a career of over 35 years and some 400 compositions, Wolfgang Rihm is one of Germany's eminent composers. He first rose to prominence in the early 1970s when he chose neither serialist complexity nor minimalist crawling, writing instead almost bar by bar in a furious expressionist style. His Darmstadt credo, "Music must be full of emotion and the emotions full of complexity" inspires him to this day. Hanssler Classic is to be commended on having launched the Rihm Edition, which will make many of Rihm's greatest compositions available on disc over the next several years. This first volume contains four concertante works performed by the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg with a changing cast of conductors and soloists.

The most striking part of "Music fur Oboe und Orchester" (1995/2002) is something that came only with the recent edition, a nearly three-minute oboe solo (Rihm is very fond of going back and writing new lines over existing works). The orchestra then enters, and the mood drastically changes. The scoring is very light, with the oboe maintaining long lines with a succession of individual orchestral instruments playing pointillistically. I've never heard a concerto quite like this. The soloist and orchestra might initially be seen as anatagonists as is common with 20th century concertos, though instead of a confrontation they seem to uneasily go along aside one another. But then we get an uproariously bouncy ending, with the oboe joining the orchestra in a dance. "Styx und Lethe" for cello and orchestra (1997/98) reminds me a lot of Berio's "Chemins II" for viola and chamber orchestra in for most of the work the soloist furiously saws away at a succession of basic lines while the ensemble is like a halo of development around him. The scoring is intriguing, with the opening section bass-heavy before higher pitches enter in a cathartic movement. I especially love how the music builds up into a grand ostinato involving seemingly every member of the orchestra.

For the most part, "Dritte Musik" for violin and orchestra (1993) has the violinist dueling with percussion, mainly on congas, bongos and marimba. The orchestra throws in little blasts on brass from time to time or keeps up some smooth lines on low strings, but generally stays out of the fight. Some of the rhythms here are catchy, resembling the pre-Columbian beats of his opera THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO. "Erster Doppelgesang" for viola, cello and orchestra (1980) is the oldest work here. Probably the major stylistic matter one notices in this piece that is missing from Rihm's later work are allusions to the Romantic tradition like flotsam and jetsam on the neo-expressionist tide. Out of the concertos on this disc, I find this piece features the coolest-sounding extended techniques on its two solo instruments. The work ends with solo snare drum rolls, giving a rather creepy martial feeling.

I look now at what I've written and see that, except for making comparisons to other works, I managed to tell very little of what the music really sounds like. Indeed, Rihm himself is known as a critic of programme notes, with the booklet for this CD even including some of his correspondence on the matter with a festival director. Nonetheless, if you are interested in contemporary repertoire that directs strong modernist gestures towards constant activity and a rich language, just take my word for it that Rihm's work is always worth looking into, and this disc gives a convenient overview.

(FWIW, my favourite Rihm pieces are JAGDEN UND FORMEN, available on a sexily packaged DG disc, and the String Quartet No 3., performed by the Ardittis and issued first on Montaigne and then Naive. Check those out as well.)
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