ENNO POPPE (b.1969): Fett for Orchestra, Ich kann mich nichts erinnern for Chorus, Organ and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 11W064
Label: BR Klassik
Description: Fett ("fat"), another of Poppe's trademark one-word titles of oblique meaning, is an extended exploration of his preoccupation with microtones and their harmonic, as well as colouristic, implications. In this work he goes further than ever before in his microtonal subdivisions of the octave, and as he explains, this enables him to construct chords that have never existed before, with as many as thirty separate pitches sounding simultaneously. Not all the chords are this complex; some have a powerful pull toward rich chromatic harmony, even tonality, but he entirely eschews extended techniques and clusters, insisting that the entire work is based on chords. And what chords they are! With the full resources of the orchestra, they tower up like megaliths of unimaginable forms and dimensions in an utterly alien landscape. The early part of the work is a Monument Valley of these towering structures, bathed in hitherto unimagined colours in what may be among music's most extreme examples of Klangfarbenkomposition to date. Gradually there is motion among the monoliths, and slowly a titanic upheaval upends them as though re-forming them into magma as a prelude to re-coalescence into what? an even more startling sonic landscape? Watch this space ... Ich kann mich an nichts erinnern (I cannot remember anything) is based on the nine verses of German poet Marcel Beyer's "Fünf Zeilen" which has a recurring motif of car tires and the traces left on the road after accidents, suicides and other tragedies. The music is built on a nine-pitch chord with microtonal variations of each note adding to the timbral colours of the orchestra and organ, which gains in prominence as the work progresses. The seventh movement is the climax of the piece, despite being a cappella; introducing war memories as a thematic element, it illustrates an interesting observation by the composer: "A simple chord sung by a choir can already be moving and touching. It is more immediate than any piano note. The listener’s physical response to a choral sound is completely different.” This sudden oasis of rich harmony after the accumulated strangeness of microtonal complexity is deeply moving. The final movements return to the microtonal landscape, but somehow transformed, and the choral conclusion, introduced by a filigree organ gesture, has the consoling resolution of an "amen". Bernhard Haas (organ), Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra; Susanna Mälki, Matthias Pintscher (Ich kann…).