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Michael HAMEL (b.1947) Vom Klang des Lebens (Of the Sound of Life)
rec. Ulrich Kraus’s studio, Wörthsee, Bavaria, January
2006 CELESTIAL HARMONIES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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