Rihm: Jagden und Formen

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Jagden und Formen
PERFORMER: Ensemble Modern/Dominique My
CATALOGUE NO: Ô20-21Õ 471 558-2
Wolfgang Rihm is a musical chameleon: the St Luke Passion, my recording of the year in 2001, is a sombre, concentrated work of great emotional depth. In Jagden und Formen (Hunts and Forms) there’s no less concentration, but it’s dynamic and energetic in nature. For the first 15 minutes there’s hardly any let-up in the musical activity – and it isn’t just aimless busy-ness: the strong rhythmic pulse fits into the six-eight mould that’s always been associated with hunting (think of the last movements of Mozart’s horn concertos). Melodic lines are often given to several instruments in unison against a background of syncopated chords and punctuations from the percussion, and this effectively two-part writing gives great clarity to the textures. Although the piece begins with two violins frantically chasing each other, wind and brass dominate the writing: there’s an especially telling part for the cor anglais, who often weaves a slow lyrical line through the surrounding frenetic activity. Moments of repose are infrequent, and tend to serve as launchpads for the next display of fireworks, which just keep exploding in varied and colourful ways. This is exhilarating stuff, stunningly performed and recorded with enormous attention to detail: it’s already on my list for next Christmas. Martin Cotton