Orpheus 400 Hans W KOCH(b.
orpheus@home (2007) [1:46] Kazuya ISHIGAMI(b. 1972)
For Kerberos (2007) [3:05] Harald MUENZ(b.
Still Life with Orphean Shepherd (2007) [6:00] Jens BRAND(b. 1968)
evros (2007) [3:24] HAARMANN(b. 1970)
Herbert Stencil als Orpheus verkleidet in der Unterwelt (für V) (2007) [5:51] Thomas KESSLER(b. 1937)
Countdown for Orpheus [6:40] Wolfgang LIEBHART(b.
Oh O… (2007) [0:37] Johannes KREIDLER(b.
Kontinuum mit Melodie (2007) [3:09] Frank NIEHUSMANN(b. 1960)
Wer? (Monster.Mythen.Mutationen) (2007) [6:40]
Gerald ECKERT(b. 1960)
Prisma – du fond d’un naufage (2007) [2:10] Johannes S. SISTERMANNS(b.
Orpheus sings the net (2007) [3:22] Andreas WAGNER(b. 1962)
Libethra 8.07 (2007) [4:00] Thomas GERWIN(b.
Orpheus 400 >e-scape No. 4 (2007) [6:40] Joachim HEINTZ(b.
Stimmen (2007) [2:50] NooK: Dirk SPECHT(b. 1968)/Gerriet
K. SHARMA(b. 1974)
Orphée 49/Edit 1 (Hommage à J.C.) (2007) [1: 56] Heinz-Josef FLORIAN(b. 1955)
Eurydikes Schrei (2007)[3:19] Clemens von REUSNER(b.
Gedehnte Zeit (2007) [4:56] Franz Martin OLBRISCH(b.
Orphée 2007 [0:04] Dugal McKINNON(b. 1972)
Strane e sconisciute vie (2007) [3:54]
Andre BARTETZKI(b. 1962)
L’eco d’Orfeo (2007) [6:07]
(curator) CYBELE 960.209 [76:17]
This is a fascinating collection of twenty electro-acoustic
works, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the
first performance of the opera Orfeo, described in
the sleeve-notes as “the first high point of musical theatre”.
The CD was put together as the ninth collection of works
by DEGEM (Deutsche Gesellshaft für elektroakustische Musik),
and all but one of them were composed specially for the project.
Durations range from 4 to 400 seconds.
Electronic music can be many things, and has the
ability to conjure up emotions, images and soundworlds that
provoke reactions. At the essence of electronic music is
the notion that anything and everything is possible; the
traditional restrictions of what an instrument or performer
can do are removed, and the variety of available sounds and
resources are seemingly endless. It is sometimes surprising,
then, that electronic composers don’t always make use of
the variety of resources available to them, with certain
sounds recurring again and again in the music of different
The pieces presented here form a unified set.
They are successful, both individually and as a group, and
it is interesting to hear the variety in approach in the
responses of twenty different composers to the Orpheus story.
There is much to commend in all of these works, beginning
with Hans W Koch’s opening track, orfeus@home, which
uses orchestral recordings and crackles to give the sense
of someone listening to old gramophone records at home. There
is a strange sense of voyeurism here, as if we are intruding
on someone’s privacy, which adds to the tension of the work.
By contrast, Jens Brand’s evros begins
with a series of electronically generated sounds, which seems
to descend into the sound of a washing machine on spin cycle.
A curious track, it is nevertheless interesting - although
I would recommend not having the volume turned up too high!
The tracks I enjoyed most seem to have come from
the ‘describing the journey into hell’ camp, including Frank
Niehusmann’s Wer? (Monster.Mythen.Mutationen), which
is a disturbingly brilliant, dark work, which conjures up
images of fear, cavernous spaces and evil forces. Haarmann’s
offering on this disc, Herbert Stencil als Orpheus verkleidet
in der Unterwelt is similarly dark, but in a different
way, using vocal samples to create a rich tapestry of sound. The
music becomes a meditation on these sounds, which draws the
listener in to this thoroughly engaging work. Another excellent
track is Countdown for Orpheus, in which Thomas Kessler
sets electronically manipulated instrumental and vocal sounds
over a constant pulsating bass line. Thomas Gerwin’s Orpheus
400>e-scape No.4 contains a wide variety of sounds,
which conjure up an array of images and gradually evolving
Starkly and refreshingly different is NooK’s short
offering, which uses pre-recorded voices from old French
films to create a canvas of sound. There is something about
the voice at the beginning (which says ‘je repète’), which
brings to mind short-wave radio transmissions, as used in
Michael Oliva’s His Anxiety.
Also worthy of mention is Johannes Kreidler’s Kontinuum
mit Melodie, which serves to demonstrate some of the
many processing techniques available to electronic composers. The
work takes a continuous choral work and different processes
are applied to short sections in the form of a collage,
creating short patches of juxtaposed sound which alter
the original line. The choral work is heard uninterrupted
in this way throughout the duration of the piece. Heinz-Josef
Florian’s work also uses a different kind of sound-world,
with heavily synthesised sounds combined in an imaginative
There is too much on this disc to be able to mention
everything, but it is certainly a listening adventure. The
disc is well put together, with a carefully considered programme
of high-quality works. It provides an Aladdin’s cave of musical
ideas, thoughts and experimentations, which are varied, successful
and at times inspiring.
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