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Larcher: Ixxu, Etc / Rosamunde Quartet, Et Al

Release Date: 09/26/2006 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 840630   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Thomas Larcher
Performer:  Thomas DemengaThomas LarcherAndrea Lauren BrownChristoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rosamunde Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Larcher Ixxu. 1 My Illness Is All the Medicine I Need. 2,3,4,5 Mumien. 4,5 Cold Farmer 1 Rosamunde Qrt; 1 Andrea Lauren Brown (sop); 2 Christoph Poppen (vn); 3 Thomas Demenga (vc); 4 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Thomas Larcher (pn) 5 ECM 1967 (53:59 & )

Thomas Larcher (b. 1963) was already well known as a concert pianist before his compositional work became recognized. As a result, he seems to have gathered a stellar cohort of fellow performers to advocate his work. All the performances on this recording give the music everything it deserves, and I find the music itself satisfying, even if at this point Larcher’s voice remains a little hard to pin down.

One pleasing aspect of his creative profile is that it is more eclectic than that of many contemporary German-speaking composers. Bartók and Ligeti seem to be touchstones, not only in the propulsive rhythmic and timbrally astute textures, but also in the willingness to shift from one stylistic template to another, fluidly and unself-consciously. Thus, in Ixxu (1998–2004), the driving, nervous material of the first two movements relaxes in the third into neo-Pärtian harmonies, before picking up the pace towards the end. Larcher speaks in his notes of trying to break out of previous patterns of composition, represented on this disc by the 1990 quartet Cold Farmer. Interestingly, he begins from more of a classic post-minimalist stance in this piece, and it seems he’s looking for something that bespeaks more the intensity and psychological surprise of expressionism in the more recent works ( plus ça change . . . ). It seems to me that the qualities he’s cultivated most in the process are concision and compression. All the remaining pieces have a Webernian tightness, though they also tend to be denser than that model, and certainly don’t eschew repetition. In a different light, Robert Schumann looks like a forefather, at least in the sense of the works taking on the character of “fantasy pieces.”

My Illness Is All the Medicine I Need (2002) is a song cycle for soprano and mixed quartet setting fragmentary texts from psychiatric patients published in Colors of Benetton magazine. Working from deliberately “ordinary” utterance, it is appropriately haunting without becoming campily lurid. Larcher has a gift to craft ostinatos that are genuinely interesting on repetition, a skill that too many composers who rely on the technique neglect at their peril. The setting of “I like it when people ask me the time. It’s also a conversation.” is an excellent example of this strength.

Perhaps my favorite piece of the disc is Mumien (“Mummies,” 2001–02) for cello and piano, where a prepared piano provides an exquisitely calibrated multi-timbral backdrop for the cello’s spare lines, whether darting or languishing.

To make sure credit is given where due, the Rosamunde Quartet members are Andreas Reiner and Simon Fordham, violins; Helmut Nicolai, viola; and Anja Lechner, cello. ECM’s sound remains excellently suited to this music, full and reverberant, but still clear and never overblown. Larcher’s music doesn’t break important new ground at this point, but it also has more than great craft. It’s sincerely intense, imaginative, and questing; and I look forward to more of it.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
"A delicate touch and taut use of dramatic contrast flicker across [Larcher's] compositions, sending out shards of notes and icy silences. . . . Mumien for cello and piano is the gem on this CD. . . . This is meaty stuff, starkly outlined by ECM's characteristically crisp and clear recording." -- Andi Spicer, Gramophone Read less

Works on This Recording

Ixxu by Thomas Larcher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rosamunde Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Composition written: 1998 - 2004. 
My Illness is the Medicine I Need by Thomas Larcher
Performer:  Thomas Demenga (Cello), Thomas Larcher (Piano), Andrea Lauren Brown (Soprano),
Christoph Poppen (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002 
Mumien by Thomas Larcher
Performer:  Thomas Demenga (Cello), Thomas Larcher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Composition written: 2001 - 2002. 
Cold Farmer by Thomas Larcher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rosamunde Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 

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