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Alpenglühen … und doch alles andere als still
Wolfram SCHURIG (b.1967)
A.R.C.H.E. (2000/2004-5) [12:28]
Wolfgang SUPPAN (b. 1966)
weiten und male (2007) [13:29]
Karlheinz ESSL (b.1960)
more or less (1999-2007) [16:56]
Christof DIENZ (b.1968)
AMPLIFY (2007) [12:33]
Bernhard GANDER (b.1969) king’s message (2007) [7:45]

Ensemble Intégrales: Henning Kaiser (tenor); Barbara Lüneburg (violin; viola); Ashley Hribar (piano); Burkhard Friedrich (saxophones); John Eckhardt (double bass); Oleg Dziewanowski (percussion; game pad; guitar amplifier); Marko Ciciliani (sound design); Karlheinz Essl (laptop)
rec. 9-12 October 2007, ORF Funkhaus Wien, Studio 2. DDD
COL LEGNO WWE1CD20280 [63:11]
Experience Classicsonline

A beautifully presented disc, with liner notes in German and English, the premise for this CD is a journey across the Alps, with the music that passes through the mind while walking. Beautifully prefaced by a text by endurance athlete and writer Martin Prinz, the works are performed here by the excellent Ensemble Intégrales.

Wolfram Schurig’s A.R.C.H.E. give the disc an explosive opening, with complex harmonies and chaotic rhythms alternating with expressive lyricism to create a highly convincing work for tenor saxophone, piano and percussion. The piano links well between the melodic lines of the saxophone and the characteristic attack of the percussion, and the instruments are carefully balanced throughout. Varied textures make maximum use of the instrumental forces and the silence, and the ending of the work is particularly haunting. 

Weiten und male by Wolfgang Suppan uses the unusual instrumental combination of tenor voice, violin, gamepad and live electronics, with a setting of a text by Christine Huber. A fascinating and atmospheric piece, the live sounds are processed and accompanied by electronics which provide a further dimension to this collage. With a somewhat pointillistic texture and effective use of stereo mixing, this is music which demands attention. I found some moments more convincing than others; the whispering was particularly effective, as was the use of the live violin and pre-recorded voice. However, some of the repetitions continued too long to maintain my interest, and some of the twanging sounds became irritating after a while. This is, however, a fascinating piece, which enters an unusual sound-world, and is well worth exploring. 

From the opening bars, Karlheinz Essl’s more or less has an intoxicating effect. The computer-generated sounds are highly effective, and the introduction of the live instruments (violin, saxophone, piano and percussion) adds colour to the sound. The percussion and piano writing in particular holds a hint of jazz at times, with a sense of improvisational freedom. The second movement opens with energetic saxophone murmurings which could be easily mistaken for a human voice, joined quickly by the rest of the ensemble to create an intense burst of power. The frenetic movement gradually calms and allows us to explore the inside of the sound as the effects are slowed down. 

AMPLIFY by Christof Dienz has a lighter feel but is equally enjoyable. Repeated phrases build to provide emerging textures and drones are constructed, giving a sense of constantly building tension and release as the lines are moved between instruments. Momentum builds and dissipates as the music moves through a range of stylistic influences. This is an effective piece which captures the imagination. 

The final track on the disc is a dramatic song which sets texts in German and in English. King’s message by Bernhard Gander is a complex work which hits the listener between the eyes. The aggressive energy of the work is spectacular, with Gander creating a wonderfully satisfying musical language which is bursting with colours, textures and pulsations. The text is similarly frenetic, with a sprechgesang-style setting which is highly effective. 

Ensemble Intégrales proves itself in this recording as one of the leading contemporary music ensembles. Their playing is constantly impressive and technically assured in music full of complexities and challenges, and they help to make this music accessible to the listener through their presentation and approach.

Carla Rees



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