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LABELS: Kairos
WORKS: Vampyrotheone; Instrumental-Insel aus Bählamms Fest; Hooloomooloo
PERFORMER: Klangforum Wien/Sylvain Cambreling
Born in Austria in 1968, Olga Neuwirth has emerged over the last few years as one of the leading members of the rising generation of European composers, with a string of prestigious commissions in the pipeline. She has studied film as well as music, and references to the visual arts permeate her works, which also make extensive use of electronics and real-time spatial effects and transformations.


The 1995 Vampyrotheone (the title evokes a fictitious deep-sea creature) is the only piece here that does without any extra technology, with its three spatially separated ensembles led by instrumental soloists, while Hooloomooloo reinforces another trio of ensembles with a recording of an ondes martenot. The writing is sometimes dense, sometimes exuberantly florid, and Neuwirth’s musical language seems indebted to Boulez more than to any other composer. This pair of striking pieces is framed and separated by the three ‘instrumental islands’ taken from Neuwirth’s 1999 music drama Bählamms Fest, based upon a play by Leonora Carrington; the sound of a central group of instruments is blended with their own electronic reflections to produce an extraordinary continuum of colours. An intriguing introduction, then, to an important composer, though the opaque notes included with the Kairos recording don’t do Neuwirth, or indeed central European writing about music, any favours at all. Andrew Clements