Rihm: Tutuguri

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LABELS: Hänssler faszinationmusik
WORKS: Tutuguri
PERFORMER: Rupert Huber (speaker); SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart, SWR Stuttgart RSO/Fabrice Bollon
Wolfgang Rihm’s 1982 ‘poème dansé’ Tutuguri was his first full-length stage work, and also the beginning of a persistent fascination with the writings and theories of Antonin Artaud that has subsequently generated the Nineties theatre pieces The Conquest of Mexico and Séraphin. The specific starting point for the scenario of the ballet was a poem of the same name by Artaud, subtitled ‘The Rite of the Black Sun’, a description of a Mexican religious ritual full of vivid, threatening imagery; when Rihm first read it, he writes in the booklet notes to this very competent first recording, it conjured up a ‘stream of music subject only to its own urges’.


Tutuguri is a massive score of extraordinary visceral energy, demanding a huge orchestra that includes six percussionists as well as a wordless chorus. The music veers between extremes. Rihm has always prized stylistic freedom above all musical virtues, and there are passages here which have a Stravinsky-like reliance upon rhythm alongside others in which neo-Romantic melody predominates, or dense-packed textures which pile up into slowly changing masses of sound. As always with Rihm, the invention is prolific, the course it maps unpredictable and the logic behind it mysteriously satisfying. Andrew Clements