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Rihm: Dis-kontur, Lichtzwang, Sub-kontur

Release Date: 03/11/2008 
Label:  Swr Music   Catalog #: 93202   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Rihm
Performer:  János Négyesy
Conductor:  Ernest BourSylvain Cambreling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

RIHM Dis-Kontur. 1 Lichtzwang. 2 Sub-Kontur 3 Sylvain Cambreling, cond; 1 Ernst Bour, cond; 2,3 János Négyesy (vn); 2 Southwest German RSO HÄNSSLER 930202, analog Read more class="SUPER12">2,3 (67:54)

The highly percussive, battering nature of the opening of Dis-Kontur (1974) speaks more of primal matters than it does of highly structured modernism. Rihm claims that he wrote the introduction to this piece in one go, and intuitively at that. It was only later that he realized that the accents lay in the proportions 5:7:2:9, ratios that he went on to utilize in the internal construction of the piece. Rihm sees his music as in the Austro-German tradition (he mentions not only Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mahler as part of this line, but also Hartmann). Dis-Kontur was written in less than six months, yet it breathes a vastness that far exceeds its duration of 23 minutes. This 2002 recording is visceral in impact. The hammer-blows of percussion can be really startling (as surely the composer intended). The musical language itself is complex yet rewarding, dark yet stimulating. March-like allusions surface as if to propel the music forward.

Percussion again launches Lichtzwang , although this time in less of a prolonged onslaught. The title means “Light Constraint” and the subtitle reads “(First) Music for Violin and Orchestra, Paul Celan in memoriam.” Written in 1975–76, it received its premiere in early March 1977. The present recording dates from the end of that month, so the work was clearly in the players’ memory. The piece is described as “a free rendition of the experience of reading an imaginary eulogy” and is essentially an instrumental cantata. To this end, the solo violin spends long periods of time in its extreme high register, delivering long, cantabile lines. Silence plays a dramatic part in the work’s unfolding, allowing us to ponder the dramatic opposition of high violin (striving towards the light) and generally low pitched orchestra (trying to drag the soloist down). Moments of peace, for example between 11 and 12 minutes in, are all the more magical for their rarity.

Finally, Sub-Kontur (1974–75), a piece with a marked predilection for the lower instruments of the orchestra. Dedicated to Rihm’s teacher, the great and much-missed Karlheinz Stockhausen, the work opens with ominous rumblings. Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Earth Dances might easily be heard as a kindred spirit. Sub-Kontur is the work on the present disc that is happiest with long stretches of stasis, lending it a predominantly meditative aspect. A sudden, overtly romantic gesture just before the 12-minute mark is startling in its brazen banality before it is subsumed into a quagmire of descents garlanded by cutting super-high violins. There is an analogous point around 24 minutes in. Structurally, the work rises slowly but seemingly inevitably to a frenzy. This 1976 recording is tremendous. I for one would have problems identifying it as non-digital, such is the dynamic range and level of detail.

This is a tremendous disc. Anyone interested in investigating Rihm should not hesitate.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Sub-Kontur by Wolfgang Rihm
Conductor:  Ernest Bour
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Notes: Composition written: Germany (1974 - 1975). 
Dis-Kontur by Wolfgang Rihm
Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974 
Lichtzwang by Wolfgang Rihm
Performer:  János Négyesy (Violin)
Conductor:  Ernest Bour
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975-1976 

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