EMMANUEL NUNES (1941-2012): Musivus for Orchestra in 4 Groups (WDR Symphony Orchestra; Emilio Pomàrico - First Recording), Minnesang for 12 Voices (SWR Vocal Ensemble; Pomàrico).
Catalogue Number: 03U059
Reference: WER 7378 2
Description: The avant garde isn't what it used to be - or so you may be tempted to think when you hear these two major works from the mid-1970s and late 1990s, which unabashedly hark back to the great, challenging days of Cologne and Darmstadt. One can hear the unmistakable influence of Stockhausen in the flamboyant orchestral writing of Musivus, with the spatialization of the instrumental forces an integral compositional element of the work. Tellingly, Nunes avoids noise textures and extended playing in favor of a vast mosaic (to which the title alludes) of jagged mineral blocks formed of every conceivable combination of orchestral timbres, chords and intervals. If you're nostalgic for the thrill of the first time you heard Gruppen appropriately performed - well, it's not that good (what is?), but its thrilling soundscape is a worthy heir. Some episodes of swirling effects in the second large section (of three, totalling 3/4 of an hour) even sound like a deliberate homage. The work is unapologetically massive, emphatic and - paradoxically for music lacking any real sense of linear progress - sounds more coherent and continuous than many works that attempt to achieve narrative directionality in vocabularies that do not admit harmonic or dynamic progressions. The piece is more like a three dimensional, mobile, sculpture than a flat mosaic, and hugely impressive. Minnesang was Nunes response to the trend for writing for vocal ensembles of virtuosic solo voices in the 1960s and 70s, that gave us works like Stimmung, Berio's Sinfonia, and Giles Swayne's Cry (among many others). The composer's choice of a very limited pitch group (based on a musical 'monogram') - in fact much of the early part of the piece is based on a single interval, with occasional added notes - renders the music readily comprehensible, and even when the pitch range expands later, it remains surprisingly consonant. A wide range of vocal techniques is required, from sung phonemes via sprechgesang on precise pitches, to rhythmic reading of the texts by theosophical mystic Jakob Böhme (1575-1624).