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Peter Michael HAMEL  (b.1947)
Vom Klang des Lebens (Of the Sound of Life) (1992-2006) [60:17]
Roger Woodward (piano)
rec. Ulrich  Kraus’s studio, Wörthsee, Bavaria, January 2006 
Experience Classicsonline

Peter Michael Hamel’s Vom Klang des Lebens (Of the Sound of Life) was written between 1992 and 2006. It can best be understood as a kind of idealised diary in twelve studies, written in memoriam. The named recipients reflect Hamel’s musical, personal and philosophical inspirations – if that’s not effusive a word – in ways that are stimulating and exciting. There are some motivic resemblances and reminiscences during the course of the twelve pieces but they can be listened to, straight through, without the necessity to immerse oneself in abstruse complexity.
The pulsing, throbbing, almost primordial start of the second movement, for example - the movement is entitled In memoriam Alfred A Tomatis – is almost Beethovenian in its sense of emergence. Yet it leads on to the jazz-inflected Milestone for Miles Davis which possesses, not inappropriately, a sense of Keith Jarrett’s lyricism and improvisational ease; also an ostinato, almost Nymanesque tinge. The movement for Morton Feldman is reflective, still, obliquely honouring his melos without inhabiting it. Tremolandi course through the fifth movement and deep bell chimes the sixth; rich chording too. Phrases absorbed from Indian Raga inhabit the seventh, dedicated to Pandit Patekar.
The movement devoted to the memory of Messiaen is imbued with an urgency of direction whilst that for Scelsi has a verve in its employment of ostinati that compels interest throughout. This comes close to a kind of lyric minimalism but there is too much incident and too many shifting patterns for it ever to become static or repetitive. The reminiscences, inner reflectiveness and internal patterns are best demonstrated by the movement for Johann David Antonin, which is itself rather reminiscent of the third movement for Miles Davis. These allusions and inner reverberations in the cycle add to its sense of solidity and completeness.
Needless to say Woodward is completely in command of the various voices, the stylistic changes involved in presenting an intricate hour-long cycle such as this. He possesses the loose-limbed lyricism necessary for the jazzier movements, quite as much as the intellectual concentration needed in the more prismic or convoluted passages of this vital, engaging, never forbidding music.
Jonathan Woolf


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