In Berlin openings, ‘Oedipe’ chills and ‘A House of Call’ thrills

Enescu’s opera offers little redemption but Heiner Goebbels’ new work is destined to enter the repertoire

"Far more light was to be found the following evening at the Philharmonie, where Heiner Goebbels’ A House of Call received its world premiere, one year later than planned, to open Berlin’s Musikfest.[...] The idea of Joyce’s “roaratorio” is extrapolated via John Cage and Roland Barthes to a deconstruction of voice and word, a travelogue through the composer’s imaginary notebook in which collected snippets of the human voice are commented on by instruments.
The piece is cannily structured in four segments and accompanied by subtle changes of light to make a whole that is utterly engaging. Goebbels understands that music is theatre and knows how to construct a taut dramaturgy. He grabs the listeners by the lapels and drags them rapidly through the changing scenery of polyglot poetry, crackling phonograph recordings of forgotten Arabic chants, [...]From the genocidal to the banal, Goebbels has our attention. There is a hint of transgression in Goebbels’ magpie collection of sonic snapshots, pleasure tinged with guilt and an awareness of our place in a morally complex universe.[...]
Goebbels understands the importance of showmanship and the hunger of the audience to be transported. With far fewer theatrical tools, [...]A House of Call is a magnificent new work, worth catching on any of its coming ports of call and surely destined to enter the repertoire.

Shirley Apthorp
Financial Times (GB), 1 September 2021