From a composer whose vast output plunders the stylistic gamut of western musical history and then some, here is a single movement requiem full of clean lines and troubled introspection. Et Lux is a 2009 composition for voices and string quartet in which Rihm dwells on certain phrases of the Latin death mass – particularly the notion of eternal light, which he calls “comforting yet deeply disturbing”. The same could be said of Et Lux as a whole. Tropes waft in from across the ages: this music treads the line of tangibility, with sudden rushes of anger or fondness and the messy half-memories that come with grief. The strings complete phrases that the singers can’t seem to summon. Conductor Paul van Nevel doubles the vocal parts to create broad, generous textures that sound lovely and lush against the strings’ icy clarity – all qualities that ECM’s engineers are expert at capturing.
“This CD with the first four string quartets reflects the interesting path of Rihm’s artistic development. The Minguet Quartet approaches the first two, shorter, works with audibly high concentration without relinquishing, in the frenzy of high-energy playing, their own cultivated sound born from quartet tradition. Here, Rihm’s third quartet, with its not unproblematic subtitle ‘Im Innersten’ (‘at the innermost core’), does not become self-indulgent ….Klassik Heute, September, 2003
Wolfgang Rihm’s compositions for string quartet, as extensive as they are varied, share no clear common denominator. Despite all the variety that exists, his string quartets have from the beginning been a constant element in his oeuvre: So far, there are thirteen quartets, as well as ten other compositions for or with a string quartet – a selection of these works can be found on this CD……
The Minguett Quartet recorded nearly the full cycle of Wolfgang Rihm's string quartets for Collegno, and it's a shame these discs are now out of print. The Minguett Quartet are Ulrich Isfort and Annette Reisinger (violins), Aroa Sorin (viola) and Matthias Diener (cello). On this volume of the cycle, we find three quartets from the 1990s and early millennium, a time when Rihm returned to the effusive expressionism that had first made him famous, after a few years of wispy, piannissimo music imitative of Nono and Lachenmann…….Christopher Culver @ Amazon.com
Col Legno's third volume of Wolfgang Rihm's string quartets is, like its predecessors, an album of vigorous and challenging works that defy easy descriptions, resist stylistic associations, and put listeners on their mettle. If the fragmentary gestures, sudden digressions, and unconventional sounds (wood blocks, voices) of the String Quartet No. 7, "Veränderungen" (1985), are signs of Rihm's restless search for a music freed of expectations, then the …..Blair Sanderson @ AllMusic.com
That the two single-movement string quartets No. 5 (“Ohne Titel”) and No. 6 (“Blaubuch”), composed in 1981/83 and 1984, belong to the most passionate of Rihm’s quartets is due to their restless vigor. This impulsive approach is of course always present in his music. But even the tempo indications “fast, restless” and “fast und free” suggest a certain stringency - which is fully realized in the pieces. A sense of inner disquiet pulls …..
The hammer strokes at the beginning of his Dis-Kontur (1974) bear only a fleeting resemblance to those in Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. But Rihm’s are of an entirely different cut altogether: after all, what we hear is not a “final rage”, but a violent outburst standing at the beginning of a long musical development. “I believe that it is important today to compose music that is totally lost to the world and only knows itself,” said Rihm about Dis-Kontur in 1975. “Only such music will be able to heal the art of composing where it was bruised by buzzwords.” It was already in his next composition, Sub-Kontur (1974/75), that Rihm took yet another step in the same direction. But while he did not level the hammer strokes of Dis-Kontur, Rihm did not allow his listener to meet them head-on either. Instead, he chose subtler means to express them. “Both pieces are big chunks chewing up symphonic topoi. In a way, Dis-Kontur is a symphonic march. Sub-Kontur is a kind of adagio that pushes upward from below, or so I thought back then.” In his Unbenannt IV (2002/03), a concerto for organ and orchestra of sorts, Rihm wanders about in search of the sonically and spatially varied relationships between the solo instrument and the orchestra groups. What he is looking for here is the “organic whole” (Rihm) constituted by orchestra and organ. A particularly gripping release in the series Musica Viva! – from col legno web site
Many of Richard Strauss´s compositions had their world premiere in Dresden and the composer dedicated An Alpine Symphony to the Dresden orchestra. The programme includes Four Last Songs, Ernster Gesang by Wolfgang Rihm and the German premiere of the last completed Strauss song "Mallows" in an orchestral version, arranged specifically for Dresden by Wolfgang Rihm.