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Neuwirth: Clinamen / Nodus


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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars We get one of Neuwirth's most accessible pieces, but also a highly spatialized piece that just doesn't work in stereo 15 July 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This Kairos disc features two turn-of-the-millennium pieces by Olga Neuwirth, the young Austrian composer who in many of her works seems to extend the weird extended instrumental techniques of Helmut Lachenmann, but also has a keen interest in theatricality.

"Clinamen/Nodus" for orchestra (1999) is performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. There is an element of Varese due to the rhythmic impulse and especially the use of a siren. In fact, there is a sense of relentless forward motion. The commission obliged Neuwirth to abstain from wind instruments (the other pieces on the programme at the premiere put too much of a burden on wind players), so she narrowed the ensemble down to strings, percussion and celesta, then expanded it with mistuned Bavarian zithers and Hawaiian guitar. Microtonal writing with an overture to spectralism continually returns to the central note D. It's one of the most accessible things Neuwirth has written, and has a visceral quality that should appeal to a wide audience of contemporary music listeners.

"Construction in Space" (2000) is a 46-minute long work for 4 soloists (flute, clarinet, tuba, saxophone), 4 ensemble groups and electronics. Emilio Pomarico leads the Klangforum Wien. This piece is actually a concert arrangement of Neuwirth's score for Michael Kreisl's short film based on Ray Bradbury's short story "The Long Rain", which depicts the mental breakdown of explorers on a planet where it never stops raining. There is considerable use of spatialisation: the audience is placed between the instrumental forces as if they are trapped, and the electronic sounds move over their heads. It would be nice to hear this in concert; apparently much of the audience at the Donaueschingen premiere reacted negatively to this aural assault! Unfortunately, on disc none of this drama comes across, and though there are some interesting moments nonetheless, the piece cannot hold my interest for the whole 47 minutes.

I've generally found Neuwirth a mediocre composer, but a few pieces have some attraction. Luckily, "Clinamen/Nodus" is one of them. However, this disc is dominated by "Construction in Space" and that just doesn't work at all. It's therefore hard to recommend this disc, and it is better left to committed fans.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We get one of Neuwirth's most accessible pieces, but also a highly spatialized piece that just doesn't work in stereo 15 July 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This Kairos disc features two turn-of-the-millennium pieces by Olga Neuwirth, the young Austrian composer who in many of her works seems to extend the weird extended instrumental techniques of Helmut Lachenmann, but also has a keen interest in theatricality.

"Clinamen/Nodus" for orchestra (1999) is performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. There is an element of Varese due to the rhythmic impulse and especially the use of a siren. In fact, there is a sense of relentless forward motion. The commission obliged Neuwirth to abstain from wind instruments (the other pieces on the programme at the premiere put too much of a burden on wind players), so she narrowed the ensemble down to strings, percussion and celesta, then expanded it with mistuned Bavarian zithers and Hawaiian guitar. Microtonal writing with an overture to spectralism continually returns to the central note D. It's one of the most accessible things Neuwirth has written, and has a visceral quality that should appeal to a wide audience of contemporary music listeners.

"Construction in Space" (2000) is a 46-minute long work for 4 soloists (flute, clarinet, tuba, saxophone), 4 ensemble groups and electronics. Emilio Pomarico leads the Klangforum Wien. This piece is actually a concert arrangement of Neuwirth's score for Michael Kreisl's short film based on Ray Bradbury's short story "The Long Rain", which depicts the mental breakdown of explorers on a planet where it never stops raining. There is considerable use of spatialisation: the audience is placed between the instrumental forces as if they are trapped, and the electronic sounds move over their heads. It would be nice to hear this in concert; apparently much of the audience at the Donaueschingen premiere reacted negatively to this aural assault! Unfortunately, on disc none of this drama comes across, and though there are some interesting moments nonetheless, the piece cannot hold my interest for the whole 47 minutes.

I've generally found Neuwirth a mediocre composer, but a few pieces have some attraction. Luckily, "Clinamen/Nodus" is one of them. However, this disc is dominated by "Construction in Space" and that just doesn't work at all. It's therefore hard to recommend this disc, and it is better left to committed fans.
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