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|1. Das Ist Mein Leib|
|2. Potum Meum|
|3. Movt Instrumental|
|4. Und Er Ging Hinaus|
|5. Domine, Audivi Auditum Tuum|
|6. Siehe, Da Kam Die Schar|
|7. Eripe Me, Domine|
|8. Sie Griffen Ihn Aber|
|9. Die Manner Aber, Die Jesum Hielten/Weissage, Wer Ist's|
|10. Qui Cogitaverunt Malitias In Corde|
|11. Und Als Es Tag Ward|
|12. Und Sie Fuhrten Ihn Vor Pilatus|
|13. Da Aber Herodes Jesum Sah|
|14. Pilatus Aber Sprach|
|15. Popule Meus|
|16. Und Als Sie Ihn Hinfuhrten/Ihr Tochter Von Jerusalem/Es Wurden Aber Auch Hingefuhrt|
|17. Und Als Sie Kamen An Die Statte|
|18. Crux Fidelis|
|19. Er Hat Anderen Geholfen|
|20. Hic Acetum, Fel, Arundo|
See all 27 tracks on this disc
Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany's leading composers, here plants himself in Bach's footsteps with a version of the St. Luke Passion. Rihm emphasizes spirituality in this calm unfolding of the drama. Five vocal soloists take the parts traditionally assigned to the Evangelist and Jesus; their lines are often broken into phrases taken by each singer. While alluding to his eminent predecessor, Rihm's music is thoroughly contemporary, though nowhere approaching iconoclastic avant-garde. He intersperses the Gospel text with liturgical hymns, a passage from Isaiah and a Stabat Mater, and closes the work with a setting of Paul Celan's poem Tenebrae.
Overall, the work impresses with its seriousness, its refusal to sensationalize or strive for effect, and its largely successful effort to adapt a traditional form to our times. This recording was made at the concert premiere, and Helmut Rilling, who commissioned the work, leads an intense performance that sustains interest throughout its hour and a half. Orchestra and chorus are fine, the soloists outstanding. -- Dan Davis
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Rihm is probably the leading German composer of his generation and one often touted as a European "neo-romantic". This description should not conjure up the likes of the ever tuneful John Corigliano in your mind. Rather, this means that Rihm is a 12 tone composer who has escewed the trappings of total serialism to create music not all that far from Luigi Nono, Alois Zimmerman or even Berg. The composer culled his text from fragments of the St. Luke passion story. By cutting the narration down to the bare bones, the work has a directness that is missing from more verbose passion settings. Words are split between five soloists and the chorus, negating any simple dramatic reading of the text. Instead, it becomes an extended dark meditation on the Luke passion story.
But this lack of drama is also one of the biggest faults in the score. The piece is monolithic. Though occasionally Rihm uses an interesting instrumental effect (courtesy of his time studying with Helmut Lachenman) most of the sections of the work blend into the other sections, almost seamlessly. And though there are changes of tempo, these are mostly quite subtle, and do nothing to relieve the unrelenting Lento feeling of the work. Add to that a very large orchestra that, paradoxically, seems mostly muddy and dark (so dark it makes Brahms sound positively sensuous!) and the work begins to loose steam rather quickly.
The challenge of writing a passion is to match the music to the gradually darkening mood of the text, without becoming unrelentingly dull. Bach is a master of this...and the St. Matthew Passion seems to get deeper and deeper...and more tragic by every chorale. Not so Rihm. Because he starts so darkly, there is basically nowhere for the work to go. By the end, rather than being moved by the arc of the passion story, you are just depressed...not the point behind a spiritual piece of music. So over all, this is a noble failure. There is much strong thought and craft in it. But it fails to reach the heights of it's text.
Rihm states in the liner notes that he chose the Saint Luke text because it is the least anti-Semitic of the Passion narratives, and one certainly cannot fault him for being "P.C." here, yet his choice of texts seems to reflect much on the modern political world.
The soloists, who we normally associate with the Baroque oratorios and such nineteenth century oratorio composers as Mendelssohn and Franck, are wonderfully adept at the tricky atonal vocal lines.
The sound recording, a live performance from Stuttgart in 2000, is excellent.
Although the liner notes seem to be up to Hanssler's high standards, my copy of the booklet was missing four pages of libretto, and four pages from the English and French translations.