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Strange Scenes Festival – The Music of Wolfgang Rihm II

Strange Scenes Festival

Strange Scenes Festival, © courtesy of Strange Scenes Festival

04.10.2019 - Article

The second concert in a series of events stretching over three months will present both intimate settings of poetry, as well as highly faceted chamber works, including a US premiere on October 19, 2019.

The German Consulate General Co-Presents:

For the first time, New York City is hosting a festival celebrating the music of Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952) - one of the most influential German composers of our time. This is the second concert in a series of events stretching over three months that will present both intimate settings of poetry, as well as highly faceted chamber works, including a US premiere.

The festival’s lineup includes the Mivos Quartet (“one of America's most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles” – The Chicago Reader), the Ekmeles vocal Ensemble (“a brilliant young ensemble defining a fresh and virtuosic American sound” – The New Yorker), New Chamber Ballet (“one of the small-scale delights of the NY dance scene” – the New York Times), and a group of internationally acclaimed soloists (Julian Schwarz, cello, Abigel Kralik, violin, Sophie Delphis, mezzo soprano) around pianist Hannah Harnest (Bard College and adjunct faculty NYU Steinhardt).

Fremde Szene II – subtitled “Character piece” – is the middle part of a three-movement work for piano trio that is very often performed separately for its significance as “declaration of love” of the composer to Robert Schumann. Szene or “Scena” was Schumann’s supposed expression of having the project to write a piano trio. Rihm explains that “the word fremd (strange or foreign) has a deep romantic core, and reminds of the opening phrases of some of the poetry that Schubert set to music. It stands for the other, the place of longing, or the place from where you might get an answer from. In this music, I used the mode of speaking of someone else, which I discussed through imitating it in my own unique way.”

Rihm is well-known for his great penchant for German literature and poetry in particular and has set manifold texts to music. Both vocal cycles presented here present poems with rich romantic metaphors and language and very often speak about the human existence, death, and the meaning of life.

ET LUX - an hour-long “requiem” scored for vocal quartet and string quartet - is a rarely performed work due to the unique forces called for and the length of the piece.

Rihm, renowned for his prolific outpouring of virtuosic, often hyper-Romantic works, explores a very different side of his aesthetic voice in ET LUX. The piece is inspired by his memories of singing in choirs as a youth, and reminiscences of melodies from Brahms and Mozart with fragments of text from the requiem mass. A startlingly beautiful tapestry is woven together, with bursts of intense emotion cutting through an otherworldly texture of sustained lines. ET LUX presents the listener with a requiem radically disintegrated and distilled in a profoundly personal way, while maintaining and even heightening the sense of spiritual poignancy we feel when contemplating mortality.

Hannah Harnest, piano
Abigel Kralik, violin
Julian Schwarz, cello
Sophie Delphis, Mezzo Soprano
Mivos Quartet
Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble

Location and time:
Mary Flagler Cary Hall, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street, New York, NY 10018
Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:30pm

For more information and tickets visit: strange scenes

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