WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): Quid est Deus for Chorus and Orchestra (SWR Vocal Ensemble, Sylvain Cambreling [conductor]), Ungemaltes Bild for Orchestra (Friedrich Goldmann [conductor]), Frau/Stimme for Soprano and Orchestra (Isolde Siebert, Carmen Fugiss [sopranos], Michael Gielen [conductor]).
Catalogue Number: 11L092
Label: Hännsler Classic
Reference: CD 93.236
Description: Rihm's recent (2007) Quid est Deus sets the 24 definitions of God from the philosophical text of mysterious origin that provides an early summary of speculative thinking about the unknown. Although one would never describe the style as anything but contemporary, as with much of Rihm's recent work, the score avoids any kind of avant-gardism or experimental vocal techniques. The result is a thoughtful, monumental canvas incorporating a wide range of expressive gesture, sometimes recalling mediæval plainchant, at others, full-blooded Schoenbergian latest-of-late Romanticism; ambiguous tonality-based harmonies seem to pay conscious tribute to Busoni. A tremendously impressive work. Frau/ Stimme, from 1989, was written for Donaueschingen, and incorporates the quest for new sonority, and spatial effects, that tended to characterize Donaueschingen works of that period. Shimmering percussion and blocks of orchestral sound underpin soaring melodic lines floating between the spatially separated soprano soloists. The title of Unpainted Pictures refers to the substantial body of watercolor sketches produced by Emil Nolde while banned by the Nazis, a largely unrealized project to complete them as oil paintings later. Written shortly after Frau/Stimme (1991), the work also has an important spatial component (with three percussionists placed around the auditorium), and a heightened, synæsthetic sense of color in the unusual and varied orchestral textures. SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg.