Lachenmann Kontrakadenz; Klangschatten; Fassade

One for the archives; the other an ideal introduction to Lachenmann’s music

Author: 
Fabrice Fitch

Lachenmann Kontrakadenz; Klangschatten; Fassade

  • Kontrakadenz
  • Klangschatten - mein Saitenspiel
  • Fassade

The past decade has seen a substantial number of recordings of Helmut Lachenmann’s music‚ and the Kairos label has done a good deal in this. These two most recent offerings offer slightly different things.
The performances of the orchestral pieces Kontrakadenz and Klangschatten – mein Saitenspiel (roughly‚ ‘Shadow Sounds – my String Game’) were made in the year they were written (1971 and 1972‚ respectively) by the orchestras for whom they were commissioned. Fassade followed swiftly‚ in 1973‚ but Lachenmann revised the score in 1987‚ and its recording dates from 1991. The link between all three performances is conductor‚ Michael Gielen. In other words‚ this CD is an archival document in much the same way as the various composer anthologies recently issued on the Col legno label; and at the risk of damning with faint praise‚ it is perhaps best received that way. The status of these first (or near­first) performances may account for a relative lack of polish and presence as a whole. At any rate‚ the ‘games’ in the string orchestra piece‚ or the appearance of pre­recorded and radio sounds in Kontrakadenz‚ have not the striking quality they acquire elsewhere in Lachenmann’s output. Whether repeated listening would quell such doubts I cannot tell‚ but the works (and the performances) on the second CD of this group strike me so much more forcibly and positively that I’d rather turn to them straightaway.
The performances of Nun and Notturno (Musik für Julia) are rather more recent (1995 and 1999)‚ but more than 30 years separate the two works: Notturno surely counts as early (1966­68)‚ while Nun is very recent (1999). The former boasts flute and trombone soloists and a men’s choir alongside the orchestra‚ resulting in a much greater variety of timbres and richness of incident (which is saying a lot in a 40­minute piece); and there is something positively heroic about Notturno‚ for small orchestra and cello solo‚ whose scraping‚ noise­based sounds take us back to the composer’s beginnings. The sense of excitement at new sonic discoveries communicates itself readily. Both ensembles turn in very strong performances.
Of the three Lachenmann discs I have reviewed recently‚ this is probably the strongest‚ the most involving‚ and I know I will be returning to it in the coming months.

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