JÖRG WIDMANN (b.1973): Drittes Labyrinth for Soprano and Orchestral Groups, Polyphone Schatten for Viola, Clarinet and Orchestral Groups.
Catalogue Number: 09U070
Reference: WER 7369 2
Description: "Polyphonic Shadows" begins with subtle, fragile extended sounds from the solo instruments; sounds lighter than air, sounds with no mass, thus capable of 'the speed of light' in the composer's optimistic performance direction. The work consists mainly of the insubstantial, evanescent polyphony between these voices, but in the final section, in a stunning coup de théâtre, the objects behind the shadows are revealed and the orchestral groups coalesce into a powerful climax, supplanted by a mysterious ascending coda which almost creates the effect of a Shepard Tone - a similar dramaturgical contour to that of Widmann's inventive Viola Concerto (04T077). Even when not basing his music on the vocabulary and repertoire of Romanticism - and for the most part, "Third Labyrinth" avoids this, though not entirely - Widmann still can't resist the lure of the Romantic spirit and its obsessions - eros and thanatos, madness, worlds beyond this, and the unknown. And when the narrative calls for huge, reverberating climaxes, his massive chords sound suspiciously tonal; the overall shape of the work follows a structural arc not often found in music in this modern an idiom. The piece was influenced by Borges' brilliant piece of literary sleight of hand in the maze of his retelling of the minotaur myth. It is a profoundly disquieting work, with extended episodes evoking echoing, shadowy spaces, through which Asterion can "run through the stone galleries until I fall dizzy to the floor" in the labyrinth that "is the same size as the world; or rather it is the world." The work's timbres and textures are extraordinary; a huge string orchestra, playing almost exclusively col legno, an ensemble of hammered or plucked stringed instruments, and satellite groups of winds and percussion. In concert, the singer moves around the hall; for the first half of the piece her limited contributions are vocalizations. The sung text, when it finally emerges, consists of fragments from Nietzsche's "Ariadne's Lament" in an erotically charged, schizophrenically disjointed 'dialogue' with a male figure who may be a lover, the Minotaur, or a figment of her imagination. The work moves toward a final, climactic 'scene' and ends enigmatically "I am your labyrinth". Sarah Wegener (soprano), Christophe Desjardins (viola), Jörg Widmann (clarinet), WDR Symphony Orchestra; Emilio Pomàrico, Heinz Holliger (Schatten).