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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Raw, paroxysmal, like Rihm's model and source of inspiration Antonin Artaud April 27 2009
By Discophage - Published on
When Wofgang Rihm emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the German contemporary music scene, he was categorized by the critics in a movement which they dubbed "new simplicity", and whose other most prominent members were Manfred Trojahn and Hans-Jurgen von Böse. Seen from today, almost 20 years hence, the notion is surprising: Rihm's music is far from simple. But it has to be understood in the context of those days, as a rejection of the rules, constrains and strictures of late-serialism and a will to come back to a method of composition which, while fully drawing on the playing techniques and expressive gamut developed by the most advanced contemporary music, was more instinctive and eclectic. But again, seen not from the standpoint of the compositional methods and processes but from that of what is being offered to the listener, Rihm's music in Tutuguri (1982), originally conceived as a "poème dansé" (danced poem) for speaker, chorus and large orchestra but (like Ravel's Daphnis) perfectly convincing as a large concert piece, is NOT simple, NOT easy listening and inconspicuous. On the contrary, it is rough and raw, violent, aggressive, cataclysmic, but also highly expressive and effective.

One of Rihm's main sources of inspiration in those years was Antonin Artaud, the half-nut (and in my opinion even more than half) French (that explains it) writer, author of the famous "The Theatre and Its Double" and the concept of Theatre of Cruelty. "Tutuguri, The Rite of the Dark Sun" is a prose poem, part of the radio play "Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu" ("To Have Done with the Judgment of God"), describing some sort of primitive ritual, or maybe some nightmare (text provided in the liner notes). Artaud's ritual theatre was for Rihm the trigger for unleashing the raw power of music.

I would personally call Rihm (like Birtwistle, with widely different compositional methods) a "post-varesian" composer, because of his taste for music that is almost constantly in a state of paroxysm and his recurring use of strongly pounding or simply subtly coloristic (as at the begining of the second tableau, track 3) percussion passages employing many exotic instruments. Rihm's Tutuguri is evocative of some primitive, barbaric ritual, with pulsating and dogged ostinatos. The last movement (CD 2) is an impressive, 38-minute of pounding drums and shouts. Quite unique it seems to me in the history of Western classical music (Xenakis maybe?) and quite daring I find in its provocativeness. I also enjoy that, true to his Artaud model, Rihm is willing to go way beyond the boundaries of "good taste", as at the end of the third part (track 4 at 25:00) where he has the speaker intone guttural shouts and grunts.

Rihm came back to Artaud in at least two other stage works: in 1991, in his opera The Conquest of Mexico (Wolfgang Rihm: Die Eroberung von Mexico), and in 1994, in another piece of music-theatre which I know only through its entry in the composer's catalog: "Séraphin, Versuch eines Theaters - Instrumente/Stimmen/ ...nach Antonin Artaud ohne Text" (Seraphin, Essay of a Theatre - Instruments/Voices/ ...after Antonin Artaud without text").

TT 1:57.
Tutuguri -- "The Rite of the Black Sun" March 20 2012
By Autonomeus - Published on
TUTUGURI is a major orchestral work from Wolfgang Rihm, composed from 1980-1982. Labelled a "poem dance," it seems to be a score for a theatrical dance performance, but the liner notes are unclear on this point. There is no indication that it is a live recording. The Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR and the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart were recorded in July 2002, with Rupert Huber as Choirmaster, and Fabrice Bollon as conductor. Six drummers are featured in the heavily percussive work.

The text by Artaud describes The Rite of the Black Sun: "The Rite is that the new sun should pass by at seven points, before it explodes at the hole of the earth. And there are six men, one for each sun, and a seventh man, who is the utterly fierce sun, dressed in black and with red flesh." Rihm says this of his "choreographic realization": "Presentation of a dark, fierce cult. The free, wild calls of the first part are given pure pounding in answer... Search for reflex-like music, for a body of sound... Towards the end: extinction of colour..."

The first disc is 79 minutes long, divided into four sections. The music is less dense than much of Rihm's writing from the decade before (see Dis-Kontur / Lichtzwang / Sub-Kontur for instance). It does sound very much like accompaniment to a performance, the orchestra punctuated by loud drums and periodic shouting and chanting. While not pleasant per se, it is more accessible than much of Rihm's other music -- the lines are not as complex. I find it to be quite compelling. It certainly creates a powerful mood, a mood that fits the dark, mysterious title.

A serious drawback to the work, and to this disc, is that the last 38-minute section is all drums, with a few vocals here and there. And it takes the entire second disc. If this was the music to a performance it might be effective, but honestly as an audio-only recording I think the second disc is superfluous. Rihm's writing for tribal-sounding pounding percussion is not impressive enough to sustain such a long passage.

TUTUGURI was written during a strong period for Rihm. The works of his first period of the Seventies were bold and audacious. What came next included Die Hamletmaschine (see my review), a stunning opera based on a Heiner Muller text. While not a masterpiece, TUTUGURI is an excellent if flawed work, and certainly worth hearing for anyone interested in Rihm's music.

(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)