Goebbels: Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten (Landscape with Distant Relatives)

COMPOSERS: Goebbels
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Goebbels
WORKS: Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten (Landscape with Distant Relatives)

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PERFORMER: David Bennent (voice), Georg Nigl (baritone); German Chamber Choir; Ensemble Modern/Franck Ollu

CATALOGUE NO: 476 5838
Heiner Goebbels has always paid

fast and loose with conventional genres, regularly blurring the distinctions between theatre and music, and so it’s no surprise to find that the first work he’s designated as an opera bears little relation to the usual notions of that genre. But Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten, first performed in

2002, brings together images,

texts and music in a way that makes them totally symbiotic. There’s no narrative continuity or coherent libretto: rather a collection of texts – from a variety of sources including Giordano Bruno, Henri Michaux, TS Eliot and Goebbels’s regular inspiration, Gertrude Stein – is arranged like a series of objects

in a cultural museum. They are

the ‘landscape’ of the title, the space in which Goebbels’s music moves, establishing its own network

of relationships.

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That music is a stylistic patchwork, too, with references to Bollywood film scores and country and western punctuated by snatches of jazzy improvisation, sampling and medieval pastiche. It shouldn’t work at all, yet Goebbels’s alchemy makes it all hang together in a totally convincing and haunting way. It’s a tour de force for Ensemble Modern too. However much pleasure this CD rendition provides, Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten really needs to be issued on DVD.