Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Christoph Ogiermann (voc); Holst Snf
NEOS 10804 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 59:20)
Thomas Hummel was born in 1962 in Germany’s Rhineland. He studied at Cologne and Frieburg (at the latter with Mathias Spahlinger); but Hummel is also educated in the sciences, and he
has worked for two years at IRCAM (Paris). Since 1994, he has been allied with the experimental studio in Freiburg (part of Southwest German Radio).
, subtitled “Searching for the Missing Ovid,” as “an experiment in recording technique.” By this, he means he has tried to achieve what he calls a “hyper-realistic” recording of a piece of music. Each instrument of the ensemble is recorded separately with the conductor, then musically adapted and “spacialized.” Computer software developed specifically for this process is employed. Presented in surround sound, the effect is to place the listener amidst the orchestra. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the piece was three years in the making (2003–06). Following on from his 1996–97 piece,
, Hummel experiments in
with the relationship between speech and music, translating certain words into the sounds of instruments. For
, Hummel took as his point of departure the novel
The Autumn of the Patriarch
(Gabriel Garcia Márquez), whereas here his influences were
Songs of Dolour
(Ovid) and the postmodern novel
Die letzte Welt
by Christoph Ransmayr. The link between the two is that Ransmayr’s novel moves between present and ancient times, referring to Ovid’s
in the process. Cotta goes in search of Ovid and finds him in a hermitage called Trachila, hence the title of Hummel’s piece. It is the element of search that specifically inspired Hummel.
Christoph Ogiermann is referred to as a “voice artist.” The texts themselves can only be heard in any sort of clear way in the second, third, and fourth movements. When they do come into focus, the effect can be shattering. In the first movement, though, the voice artist becomes a member of the ensemble. Given that Hummel has embarked on research in aesthetic perception, it is no surprise that such manipulations of timbre and, indeed, expectations of role, form a central part of his thinking. The resultant sonorities can be surprising and, at times, downright disturbing. Altered sounds can take on an otherworldly aspect, somewhat akin to Stockhausen’s sonic explorations.
The work is actually scored for speakers, 18 musicians, playback, and video, although obviously the video element is absent here. The result is stimulating, fresh, and uncompromising music recorded in state-of-the-art sound. A complete list of Hummel’s works can be found at his informative Web site, www.thomashummel.net/, where one can also download a PDF of his complex article, “Simulation of Human Voice Timbre by Orchestration of Acoustic Music Instruments.”
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Works on This Recording
Aus Trachila "Searching for the missing Ovid" by Thomas Hummel
Christoph Ogiermann (Voice)
Period: 20th Century
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