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Goebbels: Surrogate Cities [CD]

Peter Rundel Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £17.92 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Jocelyn B. Smith, David Moss
  • Orchestra: Junge Deutsche Philharmonie
  • Conductor: Peter Rundel
  • Composer: Heiner Goebbels
  • Audio CD (13 Feb 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: ECM New Series
  • ASIN: B00004RKK5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,848 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Chaconne - Canterloops
2. Allemande - Les ruines
3. Gigue
4. Sarabande - N-Touch
5. Bourree - Wildcard
6. Passacaglia
7. Courante
8. Menuett - L'ingenieur
9. Gavotte - N-Touch Remix
10. Air - Compression
11. The Horatian - Three Songs: Rome and Alba
12. The Horatian - Three Songs: So That The Blood Dropped To The Earth
13. The Horatian - Three Songs: Dwell Where The Dogs Dwell
14. D & C
15. Surrogate
16. In The Country Of Last Things

Product Description


German composer and music theatre innovator Heiner Goebbels' Surrogate Cities is an exploration of the complexities of the city: "[I]t is an attempt to approach the phenomenon of the city from various sides, to tell stories of cities, expose oneself to them, observe them ... to try and read the city as a text". Incorporating musical flashbacks as well as literary works (with quotes from Paul Auster, Hugo Hamilton and Heiner Müller) the music is as multi-faceted as the nameless, ubiquitous, ancient and modern cities that it invokes.

The CD, which includes the marvellous, often Reichian, Suite for Sampler and Orchestra, The Horatian--Three Songs (concerning the war between Rome and Alba), was commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the 1,200th anniversary of the city of Frankfurt, and it represents one of Goebbels' most accomplished and satisfying projects. Despite the music's concentration on the places people live and have lived, this is a moving, sometimes bombastic, often exciting document of people themselves, their memories and the lives they weave inside structures they only partially construct. --Mark Thwaite

Product Description

Commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the 1200th anniversary of the city of Frankfurt, "Surrogate Cities" is one of German composer and music theatre innovator Heiner Goebbels' most far-reaching projects. Concerned with the dynamic power and the power dynamics of the modern city, it is an examination of the "concrete jungle" in all its complexity, complete with musical-historical "flashbacks". Literary quotations and text setting are also integral to the work, and it incorporates words by Paul Auster, Hugo Hamilton and Heiner Müller.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Structured City 14 Aug 2002
Format:Audio CD
Now owning three of Goebbels'CD's I'm the first to admit that you don't listen to him for an easy ride. You can't even say that its easy to listen to. The nearest to conventional sounds so far was Shadows, until I heard this. Wow.
Apart from the odd D&C, this CD is excellent. Goebbels' Suite for Sampler and Orchestra is an exercise in listenable-to dissonance, meant to represent a vertical journey through a city although I think that's pushing it a bit. I like the way Goebbels uses tuned instruments as percussion which gives his compisitions a drive. Even the vocals seem to be part of the instrumentation rather than separate entities. My favourite part of this CD is the The Horatian-Three Songs with the briliant voice of Jocelyn B Smith used in a similar way to Sussan Deihim on the Shadows CD. The 'songs' are beautiful but portray such violence its easy to get sucked in. This is Goebbels' best CD to date. Buy it!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars London Performance of this piece... 18 Mar 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I recently: inadvertently after reading an interview with the composer in The Financial Times (weekend edition): saw and heard this magnificent piece performed live in the Royal Festival Hall; and now listen to it on CD. I think this is the type of music Beethoven would be writing if they were alive today. It really is that good; in my opinion. If you enjoy a challenge: I also recommend Scott Walker's (yes that Scott Walker) albums "Drift" and "Tilt" which are very similar in their dynamic range and sheer force.

This music will scare you, but also make you think, and puts contemporary music where I think to should be: at the fore of artistic and creative endeavour; and probably slightly beyond what we are comfortable listening to!
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Surrogate Cities 11 July 2000
By Jerome Bray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
HEINER GOEBBELS Surrogate Cities (ECM) Violent and tender, and intensely lyrical Surrogate Cities, Heiner Goebbels' extraordinary collection of contradictory compositions explores the "phenomenon of the city from various sides" and tells their stories. Suite For Sampler And Orchestra configures sample and fragments - a 1920s recording of a cantor, a snatch of Scarlatti, some spoken text - with simple melodies and urgent percussion to construct a picture of a city, its architecture in the clanging of brass and its memories in the quotations and samples. In The Horatians:Three Songs, Goebbels frames Heiner Muller's meditation on civic duty and power - what to do with a Horatian who saves his city but kills his sister, and is both a victor and a murder? - in the first two songs with a driving martial rhythm, and in the third with pulsing cello and strings, as Jocelyn B.Smith's exquisite voice moves effortlessly from operatic declamation to bluesy croon, from the epic confrontation between warriors to domestic recitation of the story - "words fall into the wheels of the world, irretrievably making things known to us or unknown."
D&C is an animated and dynamic portrait of a city, in which percussion, strings and wind continually collide with one another, their shimmering textures and staccato rhythms coalescing around variants on the pitches of D and C. The final pieces Surrogate, with words by Hugo Hamilton and In the Country Of Last Things, with words by Paul Auster, locates the individual within the cityscape, isolated and alienated. The pounding rhythms of piano and percussion, a jazz inflected pulse which drives David Moss spoken/sung description of a woman running in Surrogate, and the nervy noirish swirl of string and lone trumpet punctuates Moss' monologue and Smith's vocal trilling. Surrogate Cities seemingly disparate parts - Muller's adaptation of Livy and Hamilton's urban vignette - form an organic and sustained dramatic musical narrative, and infuse its theatrical and cinematic intensities with a compelling urgency, as much in Muller's exquisite composition as in Junge Deutsche Philharmonie's performance under conductor Peter Rundel's rigorous direction. Intellectually ambitious and emotionally challenging, Surrogate Cities is very beautiful and affecting collection of music. Sublime.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, dark and tantalizing 9 Jun 2004
By Corinne Lysaught - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I first heard this piece on the radio and it made me stop what I was doing. The large melodic leaps and dark harmonics make this piece one to remember. It totally reeks of the dark underground world of which it speaks. In one of the movements you can hear the doors slamming of this underground city and you can sense things lurking in the shadows. Talk about painting a picture with sound! It is intriguing, dark, and tantalizing; leaving the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, and for those with creative instincts: inspiring you to create.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting composition, at times highly exciting, but not so convincing I find when it crosses over 29 April 2009
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Heiner Goebbels' Surrogate Cities is an interesting composition, at times highly exciting, in other passages not so convincing I find.

Born in 1952 in Germany, Goebbels is one of the most interesting composers to have emerged from the smoking ashes of the avant-garde in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He started out in Germany in the late 1970s playing with and composing for the "Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester" ("The So-Called Radical Leftist Wind Orchestra"; a Frank Zappa-inspired ensemble), formed a Free-Jazz and improvisation duo with Alfred Harth and played in the art-rock-trio Cassiber, while composing music for films, incidental music to theatre plays and ballets. That is to give his roots. In the mid-eighties he began composing Hörspiele (radio-plays), most of them based on texts by Heiner Müller, and in the late 1980s he began staging some of his compositions, such as Der Mann im Fahrstuhl ("The Man in the Elevator", The Man in the Elevator (Der Mann Im Fahrstuhl)) or Die Befreiung des Prometheus ("The Liberation of Prometheus", Hörstücke). His own staging of « Ou bien le débarquement désastreux », a music-theatre composition premiered in Nanterre near Paris in1993, was brilliant, inventive and poetic - the purely audio experience you get from the CD, with its mixture of World music, free jazz, hard rock and contemporary classical, doesn't give full justice to the piece's impact (Ou Bein Le Debarquement Desastreux, Ou Bein Le Debarquement Desastreux).

Since 1988 he'd been composing pieces for small ensemble for Ensemble Modern and Ensemble Intercontemporain, but Surrogate Cities was, I believe, his first composition for large orchestra. It consists of a loose arrangement of parts, a kind of symphonic suite, purporting to explore various facets of "The City". Whether or not the music fulfils that end is best left to each listener's judgment; I think Goebbels' rationales are at times far-fetched, but that the music can be appreciated without reference to them. For instance, the first part is a ten-section Suite for sampler and orchestra, following the model of the baroque suite (the different movements are titled Chaconne, Allemande etc). According to Goebbels, "as digital memory, the sampler is an ideal vehicle for human memory". He claims that the suite is a "vertical section of the city, (...) a look underground, at the sewers", with the sampler bringing back "what lies buried beneath the surface". In the first section, "Chaconne/Kantorloops", he mixes a mostly dramatic orchestra (but sometimes also very affectedly lyrical and romantic) and old, scratching (and fascinating) recordings from the 1920s and 30s of Jewish Cantors intoning highly elaborate and lyrical melismatas, "a vocal culture that has long ceased to be accessible in this form". Obviously we are to understand that those are the memories of the eradicated Jewish population and culture buried under the layers of destroyed and reconstructed Berlin, but in effect what I hear is the somewhat artificial juxtaposition of two equally fascinating layers: the orchestra and the recordings. Mostly the suite is very exciting, generally the eerie sampled sounds blend well with the acoustic orchestra, and Goebbels has composed music that is powerful, dramatic, intriguing and ear-catching, rhythmic and syncopated. It is only when he brings in quotations (notes claim it is Scarlatti in the second section, Allemande, but it sounds more like a Bach-chorale, and the piano part in section three, Gigue, sounds to me like a Keith Jarrett or LaMonte Young impro, NOT a baroque chorale) and pastiche (tritely wistful romantic music in the first one) that I find him less than convincing. For Keith Jarrett, I'd rather buy a CD of Keith Jarrett. Incidentally, I've seen it performed live, and it was even more exciting, especially in sections 4 and 9 when Goebbels has the bass drum violently whipped with what seemed like big bunches of tree branches.

For the same reason I am not so enthusiastic with part 2, three songs on a text by Heiner Muller which Goebbels put to music in a cross-over, symphonic Jazz/Broadway style. If I wanted to hear Jazz or Broadway, I'd buy CDs of Jazz and Broadway. But those with a softer tooth than mine for that kind of cross-over will no doubt enjoy it.

On the other hand, part 4, "Surrogate", on words by the Irish novelist Hugo Hamilton (whose first novel gives its title to the composition), is thrilling, not only because of the highly energetic orchestral part, but also because of vocalist David Moss' stupendous performance of speaking, gasping, puffing, grunting. I understand that kind of delivery may be common stuff in improvisation or rock music, but in the context of classical contemporary I had never heard anything quite like that before. More fine and powerful (and pastiche- or quotation-free) orchestral invention in part 3, "D & C" (I hear reminiscences of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring", but I doubt that they are intentional), while the finale (on words from Paul Auster's "In the Country of Last Things", about how things suddenly seem to disappear in the city, spoken again by Moss with wordless vocalises by soprano Jocelyn Smith) is dramatic but mostly subdued, making a convincing conclusion.

"Surrogate Cities" isn't a flawless composition I find, but it is original, exciting and intriguing. Goebbels now seems on his way to (deserved) fame: in 2003 the piece was performed by no less than the Berlin Phil under Rattle (in reordered form, now opening with D&C, followed by the Sampler Suite and ending with "Surrogate" - I'm not sure I like that choice, as it is less showy perhaps but more interesting to have "Surrogate Cities" end "in a whimper" with "In the Country of Last Things" rather than in the bang of "Surrogate". TT 70:00.
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