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Gramophone, October 2010

Berlin-based Aribert Reimann, now 74, embodies these various histories of German music, although his 2005 clarinet-and-orchestra Cantus, performed by Jörg Widmann and the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln under Peter Rundel, takes Debussy’s use of the clarinet as its point of departure. Most often associated with opera and vocal music (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sang the lead role in his 1978 opera King Lear), Reimann is concerned with making the clarinet “sing” the soloist’s progress through a steamy, microtonally infused soundscape shadowed by instrumental pairings but interrupted by abrupt percussion outbreaks and a range of sonorities culled from the inside of a piano and similarly “extended” harp techniques; each sound carefully considered and knitted into a dramatic whole

Reimann’s unaccompanied voice piece Ollea (2006), poems by Heinrich Heine, is sung by soprano Mojca Erdmann who finds there’s expressive gold inside those oblique tonalities. Widmann performs two solo pieces and joins with Erdmann and pianist Axel Bauni for …ni una sombre (2005–06), a mosaic-like structure that sounds like a mini-opera.

Steve Koenig
Acoustic Levitation, October 2009

This set of compositions for clarinet stars Jörg Widmann, also a composer.

Cantus is a clarinet concerto. It begins with a yearning clarinet solo. Other instruments and string strokes pop up like new sprouts in spring. I disagree with the liner-writer who hears death in this concerto, and as an aspect of Reimann’s music in general. There is some playing inside of the piano, and playing around by the instruments: hide-and-go-seek and ring-around-the-rosy. Groups chasing soloists and other groups…Ollea sets four poems by Heinrich Heine, but this is not your Schumann or Schubert lied. It’s more in the vein of Berio (no, not the Folk Song Arrangements) and Henze…Reimann uses repetitive phrases, some lines spoken imperatively or accusingly, whispers. Intricate melismas. Soprano Mojca Erdman navigates these with ease, and they are striking.

Solo is a worthy nine-minute exploration of terrain rather than time or timbre, despite a moment of multiphonic honking.

…ni una sombra is a trio for soprano, clarinet and piano with a text from Rückert and Porchia. It runs seventeen minutes, the piano sounds like a harpsichord, and is the only work here that doesn’t touch me.

The disc closes with Arietta, a lovely, five-minute piece for solo basettclarinet (which at first I misread as bass clarinet; the notes say nothing about this instrument.)

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