Donaueschinger Musiktage 2006 Vol. 2
Neos Classics NEOS 10725
Georg Friedrich Haas: Hyperion, Jörg Widmann: Zweites Labyrinth
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg
Hans Zender (conductor)
Review by John Broggio - May 2, 2008
This contains two world première recordings (and performances); Georg Friedrich Haas' Hyperion (2006) and Jörg Widmann's Zweites Labryinth (2006).
The larger piece by far is the Haas, written as a "concerto for light and orchestra". This might strike listeners as odd - how can anyone hear light? Well, the scoring for this ensemble (without conductor - although Rupert Huber gets credits for his work in the rehearsals) is for 4 spaced ensembles that surround the audience to create not only a melange of sound at each point but a wash of sound as ideas are passed from one group to another. The contribution of the light is that the ensembles react (in pre-determined ways) to visual prompts from 4 distinct light sources. The result is, well, atonal mood music (if such a thing is possible) and apart from being a highly stimulating listen (once or twice through) or for auditioning/demonstrating surround sound systems I think it is implausible to imagine anyone returning to this on a frequent basis despite the committed and eloquent rendition of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg and the frequently novel textures that they conjure up.
The more concise work is, as is often the case in this experimental type of composition, the more satisfying and interesting it becomes. This has a very individual approach to scoring with 5 groups situated around the audience. Taking centre stage are 2 harps, 2 pianos, cymbal and zither; front left are 2 bass clarinets, 2 contrabass clarinets, two bassoons and 2 contrabassoons; front right are 8 horns, behind are 4 piccolos and around the audience are 26 violins! Widmann is a recipient of the Förderpreis from the Siemens Music Foundation and it shows: quite remarkable ideas are developed and passed around these unconventional forces in a manner that is totally convincing and compelling. Hans Zender directs with sensitivity and drama in equal measure, drawing committed playing from the SWR forces.
As with the other releases, the engineering is very fine indeed. A good example comes when Widmann asks for an audible "Mexican wave" from the violins - the effect is stunningly realised.
Recommended for all with a surround set-up; the most exciting musical arguments will be lost on the stereo-only brigade...
Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net