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Dis-Kontur Sub-Kontur Lichtz


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1. Dis-Kontur Fur Grosses Orchester - Ernest Bour
2. Lichtzwang - Musik Fur Violine Und Orchester - Ernest Bour
3. Sub-Kontur Fur Orchester - Ernest Bour

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Three powerful Seventies orchestral works June 7 2009
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The 22-year old Wolfgang Rihm stunned Germany's avant music world when his 40-minute work MORPHONIE was performed at the Donaueschinger Musiktage, the long-running avant music festival, in 1974. A work of strong expressionism written in 1972, it launched Rihm's credo -- "Music must be full of emotion, and the emotion full of complexity." A recording from the same year by Ernest Bour and the SWR can be found on Hanssler.

These three orchestral works, all recorded by the SWR, all followed shortly thereafter, from 1974 to 1976. DIS-KONTUR (22'44 -- 1974) and SUB-KONTUR (26'42 -- 1974/75) are both examples of polystylism as found in Berio's "Sinfonia" and Schnittke's works of the Seventies. Both pieces are dedicated to Rihm's teachers, DIS-KONTUR to Klaus Huber, and SUB-KONTUR to Karlheinz Stockhausen.

DIS-KONTUR, which opens with pounding percussion, is described by Rihm as a "latent march." As the title implies, it is discontinuous, periodically broken up and starting anew. There is one humorous passage that suggests the crazed Allegretto of Ives's Fourth Symphony with a marching band in the distance. According to Rihm, "...[a]n available type of musical idiom is uncovered and nearly exorcised. In "Dis-Kontur," it was "the march," the act of determinedly going forward, which gradually frees itself from a percussive web and is then atomized in the explosion of its own liberation." The current recording is from 2002, led by Sylvain Cambreling.

"In SUB-KONTUR," says Rihm, "it is the type of the melodic adagio, a cipher rising from below throught the constantly present attacks of a state of musical rawness..." "...[t]he adagio type becomes more and more recognizable ... up to the point where the adagio formulates itself in all clarity, where it achieves a breakthrough." Indeed, it sounds like Mahler periodically interrupts Rihm, similar to the way that Berio uses Mahler's Symphony No. 2 in "Sinfonia." This juxtoposition can be found as well in Rihm's String Quartet No. 3, of course, which is from the same period. Both DIS-KONTUR and SUB-KONTUR have also been recorded live at the Musica Viva Festival by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and released on Col Legno.

The third piece here, programmed second in between the other two, is a violin concerto called LICHTZWANG (18'06 -- 1975/76), or Light Constraint, which is for "Paul Celan in memoriam." The musical language is similar to the other works of this period. The violin is played by Janos Negyesy, while the SWR is led by Ernest Bour in 1977. According to Rihm, the solo voice repeatedly reaches for the heights, "synonymous with radiance," and runs into interference from the orchestra. This is a fine concerto, an excellent complement to those already found in Hanssler's Rihm-Edition, Volume One. (Negyesy can also be heard heard playing an excellent concerto by Roger Reynolds -- see my review.)

This disc is Volume Two in Hanssler's Rihm-Edition. So far it looks like the schedule is one release a year. Volume One collected four concertos, and Volume Three is three orchestral and two choral works.

So far I could not be more impressed with the programming and packaging of the Rihm-Edition discs. For instance, this Volume Two has liner notes by the composer, essays written at the time of completion of each composition. And I love the cover photo of the young Rihm concentrating in the SWR studio! This set splendidly expands our appreciation of the young Rihm, right out of the gate with powerful works for orchestra. Hanssler is making available historic recordings of the SWR (SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg and SWR Stuttgart) for the series, and I look forward to more releases!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It's just a phase Dec 29 2011
By Personne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I've known a great many composers. Some were young, some were old and many have been both. Almost without exception, those composers have gone through a phase in which they rebel against whatever restrictions stand in their way. Whether it's a defiant return to tonality or abandonment of same, there's a need to make a declaration of one's new compositional path. Those perceived restrictions are almost always self-imposed, but they still feel real to the composer.

This CD appears to encapsulate that moment for Wolfgang Rihm, the composer of a great many fine works. Dating from his middle 20's we have three works in which Rihm has declared his embrace of personal expression. Other than his typically secure sense of orchestration, these bear little resemblance to pieces before and after. They are all violent in nature--especially the two Kontur pieces, opening with extended bouts of fortissimo percussion. The lower registers are in favor throughout. Material is introduced, only to be destroyed as the pieces proceed. This is most notable in Sub-Kontur. Midway through, Rihm introduces a sickly cinema string motif (Gershwin at his worst) only to tear it apart. There's been little preparation: it's a willful assault that happens out of the blue. A little later, it happens again.

I've listened to the pieces on this CD several times, but the music doesn't really congeal in a meaningful way. It moves along, violent crescendi interspersed with brooding low strings. I can't really perceive a form or direction. It just feels like music that Rihm needed to get out of his system. As much as I appreciate his body of work, I'm unlikely to revisit these pieces too often.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Early Rihm, music of modernist outlook but frenetic, tortured emotion May 14 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sixty this year, Wolfgang Rihm has had a long and varied career, which Hanssler's Rihm Edition aims to document by exploring the archives of German radio orchestras. This disc here focuses on the period when he first came to prominence in the European contemporary music scene. In the 1970s, Rihm was writing in an effusive expressionistic style, often going with the white-hot inspiration of any given moment instead of an elaborate preconceived form. The SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg perform three works in this vein.

And Rihm's programme note for "Dis-Kontur" for orchestra (1974) emphasizes that desire to communicate a feeling within: "The attempt to speak clearly, to compose undisguised emotions in contoured, individual gestalts, is a theme. In the process, it is not a matter of 'showing' or 'proving' anything. 'Dis-Kontur' is actually composed from a feeling for life. The piece molded me as much as I did the music. While working on it, I constantly found myself in emotional borderline situations." The piece opens with aggressive drum beats, and then brass is added, but the prevailing sound for the whole 20 minutes is clanging, and I don't find "Dis-Kontur" one of Rihm's successes. On this 2002 recording, Sylvain Cambreling conducts.

"Sub-Kontur" (1974/75) also opens with timpani rolls, but a more restrained musical drama unfolds. A piano beats time with the same note, while only an instrument here and there erupts into violence. But starting around halfway through the work, the listener will be surprised by sudden Romantic swells and a very conventional sound of yearning -- Rihm was keenly aware of the German tradition. Conflict returns, but then there's a triumphant Romantic ending. This recording is of the work's premiere at the Donaueschingen Festival on October 23, 1976. Ernest Bour conducts.

"Lichtzwang" (1975/76) is a concerto for violin and orchestra. The work was written in memory of the poet Paul Celan, who had committed suicide several years earlier, after preparing for press a collection with the same title (among translations of the German, "Light Duress", "Light Constraint" and "Light Compulsion" have been proposed). The title is appropriate, for the violin, playing nearly continuously and often at the top of its range, is assailed by dark forces in the orchestra. The violin wants to sing, but it manages only one brief solo moment before it is overwhelmed by percussion. This recording is of the work's premiere on March 4, 1977. The soloist is János Négyesy and the conductor Ernest Bour.

"Sub-Kontur" and "Lichtzwang" are excellent examples of the power of Rihm's early style, drawing on both the intense early pieces of the Second Viennese School and the Romantic tradition, but totally sui generis. While these radio recordings might not be the ideal introduction to Rihm (I usually recommend the String Quartet No. 3 for those unfamiliar with Rihm), this will prove an enjoyable disc for fans.


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