Rihm’s Geste zu Vedova performed by The Minguet Quartet

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COMPOSERS: Rihm
LABELS: Wergo
ALBUM TITLE: Rihm
WORKS: Geste zu Vedova; String Quartet in G; String Quartet No. 1; Epilogue for String Quartet
PERFORMER: Jens Peter Maintz (cello); Minguet Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: WER 7346 2

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Wolfgang Rihm is a musical phenomenon: a composer of ceaseless invention and total integrity, completing a dizzying number of works across a dizzying range of styles. This fine disc traces something of the composer’s creative journey, placing a pair of early quartets alongside two mesmeric recent works.

The earlier scores – Rihm’s String Quartet in G (1966) and the String Quartet 1968 – are tightly-wrought and agile, their angular poise offset by a glorious ‘Chaconne’ in the finale of the latter work, marked ‘expansive, free beat, expressive’ and performed here with sonorous beauty. The two later compositions reveal the depth of the mature Rihm’s imagination and expression. Sparked by the work of modern Italian painter Emilio Vedova, Geste zu Vedova (2015) is an arresting blend of the meditative and the percussive, while Epilogue for String Quintet (2012/13) offers a complex response to Schubert’s String Quintet in C. Rihm’s piece first conjures something of the exquisite, otherworldly repose of Schubert’s slow movement, before the quintet crackles and storms with microtonal clusters and sfffz pizzicatos. 

The Minguet Quartet (joined by Jens Peter Maintz) deliver fine performances, finding the precision, lyricism and fiery abandon demanded by Rihm’s endlessly inventive scores. 

Kate Wakeling