Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Mon, 30 Jan 2023 08:54:58 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Wolfgang Rihm - Concerto Dithyrambe - Sotto Voce - Sotto Voce 2 (2009) Wolfgang Rihm - Concerto Dithyrambe - Sotto Voce - Sotto Voce 2 (2009)

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1. Concerto Dithyrambe for string quartet & orchestra
2. Sotto Voce – Notturno for piano & small orchestra
3. Sotto Voce 2 – Capriccio for piano & small orchestra

Arditti String Quartet

Nicolas Hodges, piano
Luzerner Sinfonieorchester
Jonathan Nott, John Axelrod, conductors

Kairos, 2009


Wolfgang Rihm is fantastically prolific, and only a fraction of his oeuvre has been documented. It is great to hear early works, as in Hanssler's Rihm Edition which ranges across his compositional career to date. This Kairos disc, though, presents three pieces from 1999, 2000 and 2007, Rihm of the new century.

"CONCERTO" -- Dithyrambe for String Quartet and Orchestra (25'45 -- 2000) features the Arditti Quartet and the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester led by Jonathan Nott. It is not a dialogue between the quartet and the orchestra, but rather a "manic monologue" by "a creature with four mouths -- yes, with four heads and four mouths, a beast!" according to Rihm. A single vivace movement, "CONCERTO" is written for an orchestra of only 46 musicians, with "the orchestra like a cage ... [o]r perhaps a body, inside which the nerves (the quartet) 'dance'," says the composer. Using musical material from the 6th and 9th quartets, this is an exhilarating and exhausting piece that is similar in its headlong rush to Jagden und Formen (Hunts and Forms) (1995/2001), which was released as a DG 20/21 disc in 2002, altough with quite different instrumentation. This will certainly appeal to anyone who liked that Rihm composition from the same period. Personally I don't find either to be among Rihm's finest work, but "CONCERTO" is quite enjoyable.

The piano concerto "Sotto voce Notturno" (17'41 -- 1999) was joined to what amounts to a second movement several years later in the form of "Sotto voce 2 Capriccio" (11'01 -- 2007). The original piece had a novel origin for the typically harsh, avant Rihm -- Daniel Barenboim asked Rihm to "invent a piece" into his Mozart programs with the Berlin Philharmonic! So that is what he did. A lovely piece, slow and quiet, it is utterly untypical of Rihm. Originally performed by Barenboim with the BPO, it is here performed by the brilliant Nicolas Hodges with John Axelrod leading the Lucerne orchestra. Rihm has never sounded prettier or more like Debussy. The capriccio is like "an answer to" the notturno, says Rihm, "a motion-filled piece that whispers. It has to do with motion sequences and velocity."

While I would not place this at the top of the growing list of currently available Rihm discs, it is quite fine and more accessible than most. It confirms something we have noticed in recent years, and that is the mellowing of Wolfgang Rihm (see for instance the oboe concerto on the Rihm Edition Volume One set from Hanssler). We just hope he doesn't mellow too much -- we have plenty of contemporary composers who want to sound like Debussy! ---R.Hutchinson

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Sun, 17 Apr 2011 09:13:32 +0000
Wolfgang Rihm - Deus Passus: St. Luke Passion (2001) Wolfgang Rihm - Deus Passus: St. Luke Passion (2001)

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01 Das ist mein Leib
02 Potum meum
03 Instrumentalsatz
04 Und er ging hinaus
05 Domine, audivi auditum tuum
06 Siehe, da kam die Schar
07 Eripe me, Domine
08 Sie griffen ihn aber
09 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 Poplue meus
16 Und als sie ihn hinfuhrten - Ihr Tochter von Jerusalem - Es wurden aber auch ...

01 Und als sie kamen an die Statte
02 Crux fidelis
03 Er hat anderen geholfen
04 Hic acetum, fel, arundo
05 Es war aber auch uber ihm geschrieben - Und es ward eine Finsternis
06 Und Jesus rief laut - Vater, ich befehle meinen Geist - Und ... verschied
07 Flecte ramos, arbor alta
08 Stabat mater dolorosa
09 Und alles Volk, das dabei war - Furwahr, er trug unsre Krankheit
10 Joseph von Arimathia ging zu Pilatus
11 Tenebrae

Juliane Banse, soprano
Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano
Cornelia Kallisch, alto
Christoph Pregardien, tenor
Andreas Schmidt, baritone
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Helmuth Rilling, conductor


"The blood in the formula of institution...'meets' the blood of slaughtered humanity. The attempt to give form to something so unspeakable could be said to characterize the entire work, and reserve to be its defining quality." -- Wolfgang Rihm on his Deus Passus


Some stories we tell, and some stories tell us: they flow beneath a conscious fabling, undercut our narrative thread and press against our sounding voice like an insidious double. In his setting of the Passion of Christ according to Luke, Wolfgang Rihm consciously commits himself not to one but two stories. The first is the tale of Christ's persecution and crucifixion, probably the the West's longest-lasting thread, unbroken through millennia of retellings. But the second substory which Rihm attempts in his Passion is a comparatively recent one, perhaps (in some minds) a revision of Christian narrative. It's the "story" of the Holocaust -- hardly a story, hardly a fable with hardly a moral. When, amidst some of Rihm's oddest and uncomfortable music yet, this counterplot surfaces, the 90-minute Passion is almost over. And even though the score's force and voice have all but faded by this point, the revealing still shocks: just as the women enter the tomb of Christ and find him missing -- this moment which modulates almost immediately among into the Resurrection -- Rihm severs the biblical text's head, and substitutes Frankenstein-like a famous verse ("Tenebrae") of poet Paul Celan, a camp survivor who committed suicide in 1970 -- an inconceivably inverted petition, in this context: "Pray, Lord,/pray to us,/we are near."

Perhaps, somewhere, a tear is always shed for a cut thread; but to snip the trajectory of immanent afterlife, rend the resurrecting moment and replace it with the monstrous swerve of Celan's words -- is an act of poetic violence on Rihm's part, a move to wound the expectations. Why? As a German born after WWII, Rihm sits uneasy with the Passion-form, remarking of his choice to set Luke that it "would have been impossible for a German composer such as myself to of the other Gospels," which contain the stains of anti-Semitism. But Rihm's critique went farther; his Deus Passus, written for the Stuttgart "Passion 2000" project, bears the subtitle "Fragments of a St. Luke Passion." Scored for five solo voices, small orchestra, and chorus, it's a set of immaculate ruins, a collection of gleaming tesserae; its music arises from between the Passion and the Genocide as the reflection of a finely wound filament in a shattered mirror.

Perhaps what's at stake in this cruelest cross-cut is not the collision of one story with another; it's the collision of storytelling with an ineffable lack of story. The Gospels-tales remained intact over epochs but the Holocaust is broken anti-event defying narration through only 60 years. There's a rift, an absent equivalence between these two irreconcilable blood-offerings, a mis-transfusion, possibly a poisoning. In their own shattered doubleness, Rihm's "Passion-pieces" at least catch a chasm's likeness, even if they do not bridge it. ---Seth Brodsky,

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:06:15 +0000
Wolfgang Rihm - Die Eroberung von Mexico [The Conquest of Mexico] (2015) Wolfgang Rihm - Die Eroberung von Mexico [The Conquest of Mexico] (2015)

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1. Act 1 & 2
2. Act 3 & 4

Angela Denoke - Montezuma
Bo Skovhus - Cortez
Susanna Andersson - Soprano
MarieAnge Todorovitch - Mezzosopran
Stephan Rehm - Sprecher 1
Peter Pruchniewitz - Sprecher 2

ORF RadioSymphonieorchester Wien
Ingo Metzmacher – conductor

Felsenreitschule, Salzburg Festival (07/2015)


This year the Salzburg Festival hoped to offer a new opera by György Kurtág, but it was not forthcoming from the composer, who turns 90 in February. Accordingly, to fill the new-opera slot the festival turned to The Conquest of Mexico (1992) by Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany’s most successful and prolific composers.

In subject matter, Rihm nominally followed examples set by Gaspare Spontini and Roger Sessions and based his “music theatre” piece on the clash between Aztec ruler Montezuma and Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. But by casting a soprano as Montezuma and a baritone as Cortés and by fashioning a non-narrative libretto (from texts by Antonin Artaud and Octavio Paz) that is not time or space specific, Rihm produced a generic battle of the sexes. Salzburg’s inventive production by Peter Konwitschny, with sets and costumes by Johannes Leiacker, eagerly accepted the libretto’s apparent invitation to fill in what’s missing by setting the action in a modern living room (a rug and a painting by Frida Kahlo suggest Mexico) in which Montezuma, dressed like a housewife, nervously awaits “her” date Cortés, who arrives bearing flowers.

The situation deteriorates. Cortés forces himself on Montezuma; “she” accuses him of wanting only gold and brings on women wearing only dabs of gold paint; he acquires a red sports car; there is a gang rape. In a scene apparently intended as comic relief, the pregnant Montezuma gives birth to laptop computers, iPads and other symbols of the virtual age. Montezuma eventually disappears, Cortés commits suicide, and their voices blend in a duet from beyond the grave.

You have to admire Salzburg for its tenacity in tackling a work so determined not to provide conventional entertainment. The pseudo-intellectual libretto proved pretentious, the music too sparse and fragmentary to trigger any emotional response. Konwitschny’s brilliance ultimately was swamped by the score’s tedium. Angela Denoke and Bo Skovhus, each backed by two other singers, including the ethereal high soprano Susanna Andersson, were superb as the protagonists. Leading the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Ingo Metzmacher, who conducted the premiere in Hamburg years ago, ensured that the music sounded as good as it could. --- George Loomis,

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Mon, 07 Nov 2016 15:41:27 +0000
Wolfgang Rihm - Jakob Lenz (2012) Wolfgang Rihm - Jakob Lenz (2012)

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1. Jakob Lenz Angius Bologna 12 04 2012

Jakob Lenz - Tomas Möwes
Oberlin - Markus Hollop
Kaufmann - Daniel Kirch

6 stimmen:
Anna Maria Sarra (sop 1)
Paola Francesca Natale (sop 2)
Alena Sautier (mz 1)
Romina Boscolo (mz 2)
Gabriele Ribis (bs 1)
Christian Faravelli (bs 2)

2 kinder
Valentina Pucci (12)
Benedetta Fanciulli (12)
Anna Pitzalis (13, 15)
Valeria Cammarata (13, 15)

Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Marco Angius – conductor

Bologna 12.04.2012
Broadcast Radio DVBT Rai Radiotre


The source for the libretto, Büchner’s Lenz (1835), tells the true story of the Sturm und Drang poet’s retreat to the picturesque mountain town of Waldersbach to stay with the progressive pastor Johann Oberlin. Lenz’s ‘cold baths’ in the village fountain not only illustrate his incipient madness, but also show him trying to clean away the painful memory of his unrequited love for Friederike Brion – herself the jilted lover of another writer, Goethe. The dunking, taking place outside in a reedy marsh in this version, is also a visual translation of Büchner’s mystical descriptions of nature. It is not enough for Lenz to witness the beauty of the mountains, the earth, the rivers – he wants to merge seamlessly into them.

The themes of insanity, religion, anti-idealism were all distilled into Büchner’s next project, the play Woyzeck (1837), familiar to opera-goers as Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (1925). And as one might expect, Rihm, who was only 25 when he began work on Lenz, has taken plenty of lessons from his predecessor. Lenz shares Wozzeck’s tight structure – a series of short scenes, 13 rather than 15, each with its own distinct musical character related to the content of the stage action. The style can also loosely be characterized as ‘expressionist’. The audience sees – or rather hears – the world not as an external observer but from inside Lenz’s head. The one difference is that, whereas Berg let his sympathy for Wozzeck seep into the score, Rihm manages to keep his emotions under control, more in tune with the warts-and-all ‘truth’ aesthetic that Lenz expounds in his only lucid moments.

Rihm has made full use of the opportunities for creating surprising instrumental effects that a depiction of insanity affords. The inventiveness of the sound-palette is reason enough to go and see this piece, and all the more impressive given that all the sonic contortions are wrung out of just 11 players. The two stand-out scenes are Scene 5, where Lenz, a theology graduate, offers to preach the sermon for Oberlin and Scene 9, where he is tormented by hallucinatory voices, including that of his lover, floating over the mountain. In the former, the external congregational singing forms a backdrop against which we hear the turmoil going on inside Lenz’s head. By manipulating the uncanny web of sound that results, Rihm has captured the shift in Lenz’s mental state from (using Büchner’s words) ‘a sweet sensation of endless well-being’ to one in which ‘the whole universe seemed stricken by terrible wounds’ filling him ‘with indescribable pain’.

Along with the climax of the piece in Scene 11 – where, after failing to bring a dead girl back to life, Lenz finally loses his faith in God and tries to kill himself – these passages demonstrate the success of the dramatic conception. Even though librettist Michael Fröhling has done a good job of converting Büchner’s descriptive prose into dialogue and choreographer Anjali Mehra made sure there was plenty going on on stage, there is very little actual tension between the characters. Oberlin is powerless to help Lenz, despite his best efforts, and is mostly relegated to a voice on the periphery of his consciousness. The memory of Friederike haunts him, but there can be no interaction with a ghost. The only friction occurs with the disturbing arrival of his stablemate Christoph Kaufmann, here got up as an effeminate dandy, who delivers an unwelcome letter from his father begging him to return.

Jakob LenzInstead, the drama that Rihm’s music articulates is Lenz’s valiant but doomed struggle against his own schizophrenia – the novella being regarded by some German psychiatrists as one of the first case studies of the illness. The tragedy of his eventual defeat is that it reduces the previously sensitive poet who valued the ‘life even of the meanest of men’ into an empty shell with ‘no fear, no longing’, seeing ‘his existence [only] as a necessary burden’.

The music, although no easy ride, is immediate enough to be enjoyable on a first listen. And with a uniformly good cast supporting Shore’s towering central performance, this production has everything to recommend it. ---Marc Brooks,

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Sun, 08 May 2011 09:49:40 +0000
Wolfgang Rihm – La Musique Creuse Le Ciel (2009) Wolfgang Rihm – La Musique Creuse Le Ciel (2009)

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1. La musique creuse le ciel - Musik für zwei Klaviere und großes Orchester (1977\79)    [34:12]
2. Über-Schrift für zwei Klaviere (1992\2003)    [26:33]

Klavierduo Andreas Grau & Götz Schumacher
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Peter Rundel – conductor


Wolfgang Rihm is probably the most prominent German modernist composer to emerge in the late twentieth century. Remarkably prolific, he has written extensively in virtually every genre, but he tends to favor large-scale works, and the two pieces recorded here certainly qualify. La musique creuse le ciel (Music Hollows Out the Sky) for two pianos and large orchestra is a single-movement work that lasts 35 minutes. Written when the composer was in his twenties, it's an essay in anguished expressionism constructed of fragmentary gestures whose relationships are not immediately obvious. Rihm gives the audience little to hold onto in making sense of the piece, but it does have many striking moments, including an old-fashioned giddy melodrama that sounds like the scoring for an early Dracula film, which opens the score and pops up in various guises throughout. Uber-Schrift, for two pianos, is even more abstract, disjunct, and opaque in divulging its intent or direction. Rihm has demonstrated intriguing versatility as a composer, but for anyone except for the most ardent and experienced modernist, these are probably not the best works for beginning to explore his oeuvre. The GrauSchumacher Piano Duo delivers virtuoso accounts of these formidably difficult scores and plays with passion and commitment. Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, led by Peter Rundel, likewise throws itself into the music with fervor and focus. The sound is clean, but cold and a little brittle. --- Stephen Eddins, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Sun, 19 Jan 2014 17:05:25 +0000
Wolfgang Rihm: Gruß-Moment 2 - Requiem-Strophen (2017) Wolfgang Rihm: Gruß-Moment 2 - Requiem-Strophen (2017)

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1. Gruß-Moment 2 - in memoriam Pierre Boulez
2. "Requiem-Strophen" für zwei Soprane, Bariton, Chor und Orchester (2016)

Anna Prohaska - Soprano
Mojca Erdmann - Soprano
Hanno Müller-Brachmann - Baritone
Choir and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  
Mariss Jansons – Conductor

31.03.2017, München, Herkulessaal


Wolfgang Rihm’s Gruß-Moment 2 is nevertheless emphatically a new work, albeit performed with a confidence that might suggest otherwise. Rihm’s piece – allegedly five minutes long, but significantly longer – is one of twelve commissioned by the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker from different composers, apparently given carte blanche as to how they approached their ‘album leaf’ compositions. It also follows Gruß-Moment 1, written for the Lucerne Festival, for Pierre Boulez’s ninetieth birthday in 2015; now, of course, we live in the shadow of Boulez’s death, and the piece is dedicated to his memory.

Rihm has written for what looks like an average-sized orchestra: neither Bach’s, nor Gurrelieder’s. There are interesting omissions, though: clarinets, bassoons (not contra-bassoon, however), and trumpets. On the other hand, there are four players apiece for flutes, horns, and percussion. It is with an English horn solo that the lament or tombeau begins, perhaps inevitably putting us in mind of Tristan und Isolde. (Whether I liked it or not, I could not help but find intervallic and rhythmic correspondences and differences with Wagner’s Shepherd Song.) Four horns follow on: as so often with Rihm, forging further links with German Romanticism, albeit more obliquely here than sometimes. Was that even a hint of Bruckner in the string unison lines to come? Oboe and trombone duetting, still more English horn and trombone duetting, put me a little in mind of Stockhausen’s Mittwoch, but that was probably just me; for one can play the game of correspondences all one likes, of course, and it is in many ways just a way of finding one’s bearing. It was only really with the sounding of the quartet of flutes and percussion together that my ears found something that might possibly remind me of Boulez, and then not overtly. Such, however, is not necessarily the point of a tribute. If this were a tombeau, it was not gloomy, some post-expressionist Angst prior to the close notwithstanding, but then why should it be? Perhaps this was more akin to an ode from Berlioz, Gluck, even Stravsinky; perhaps not. It intrigued, nevertheless, nowhere more so than in the soft, yet Fafner-like timpani of the closing bars: ‘dolce, quasi cantando’.


“I go slowly from the world / into a landscape beyond all distance,” writes Hans Sahl in his poem Strophen, which revolves around the final stages of the journey through life, before death awaits us. Wolfgang Rihm has set these verses to music in his new, evening-length choral work Requiem-Strophen, along with a text by Johannes Bobrowski, sonnets by Michelangelo, and a Psalm from the Bible. It may remind you of Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms, which similarly does not follow the liturgy of the Mass for the Dead but instead offers a highly personal set of texts culled by the composer. And like Brahms, Rihm, too, keeps deliberate distance from the certainty of faith: “God has given us the gift of doubt. Through this he remains inextinguishably present in us,” he once remarked.

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]]> (bluesever) Rihm Wolfgang Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:59:27 +0000