Wolfgang Rihm is number one among contemporary composers when it comes to creative reflection on the fascination inspired by the human voice. His oeuvre ranging from the intimate song to the opulent opera places enormous demands on the interpreters but never loses sight of the vocal element. Holger Falk has performed principal roles in several operas by Rihm and has repeatedly worked closely with this composer, while Steffen Schleiermacher numbers among the most distinguished pianists in the field of modern classical music. Their selection of songs by Rihm ranges from the early Wölfli-Liederbuch to the Six Poems by Friedrich Nietzsche of 2001 and offers
compelling insights into the artistic development of one of today’s most sought-after composers.
The selection of the texts on which these songs are based is at least as remarkable as the music.
Enigmatic, complex, intricate, contradictory: two of the authors sharing space on this CD wrote their texts in a mental asylum, and two others spent the last years of their lives in psychic turmoil. The Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli was certainly one of the first creative individuals to be taken seriously while plagued by schizophrenia; driven by nonstop creative urgings, he produced a vast oeuvre consisting of drawings and texts. Rihm pays dramatic tribute to the natural forces behind its
production in this CD’s surprising finale.
Friedrich Nietzsche occupies a special place in Rihm’s oeuvre. Along with many songs to texts by
Nietzsche, the opera Dionysos (with Holger Falk in the title role) thematizes the troubled philosopher. Though not seeming to lend themselves to musical settings, Nietzsche’s mysterious texts of fragmentary character serve as the occasion for musical occupation continuing his profound and probing words while implementing other means. Jakob Lenz, who fascinated the revolutionary Georg Buchner in his time, inspired Rihm to compose a highly expressive cycle; in An die Sonne declamatory expression meets honorable, deeply felt pathos: absolutely magnificent!
And then there is Peter Sloterdijk: the composition for voice and piano dedicated to this grand communicator and media-savvy universal philosopher is entitled “Wortlos” (Wordless). And it’s true: the singer is silent....