Lachenmann: Schwankungen am Rand; Mouvement (– vor der Erstarrung); ‘…zwei Gefühle…’, Musik mit Leonardo

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COMPOSERS: Lachenmann
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Schwankungen am Rand; Mouvement (– vor der Erstarrung); ‘…zwei Gefühle…’, Musik mit Leonardo
PERFORMER: Ensemble Modern/Peter Eötvös
CATALOGUE NO: 461 949-2
Two of these works were on a Kairos disc I reviewed in November 2001, but the novelty is Schwankungen am Rand, one of the earliest pieces where Lachenmann explored the use of unconventional playing techniques and noise. Four large sheets of metal, scraped and struck in all sorts of ways, are the basis of the work, and they’re supplemented with other percussion, loudspeakers and a large group of strings and brass. Lachenmann combines pitched and unpitched sounds and moves between them with a sure touch – this is music which will distress and even offend many people, but there is no doubt that it is music, precisely imagined and paced. It’s painted with fairly broad strokes, but Mouvement, for smaller mixed ensemble, has much more pointilliste detail, especially in the outer sections, where each exactly placed instrumental sigh and exclamation builds up the larger picture. And the rhythmic excitement of the (more conventional) central climax is absolutely electrifying. ‘…zwei Gefühle…’ doesn’t include the laid-back authenticity of the composer as speaker, as did the Kairos recording, but works much better here with two contrasting voices against the bleak, spare instrumental background. The playing of the Ensemble Modern is beyond praise for its identification with Lachenmann’s painfully beautiful world. Martin Cotton

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