Goebbels' World Premiere

Berlin Philharmonic Hall; March 6, 2003

Heiner Goebbels’ new work, commissioned especially for the Berlin Philharmonic, is Aus einem Tagebuch: Kurze Eintragungen für Orchester [From a diary: short entries for orchestra]. Goebbels has become known for a kind of hard-to-describe, wonderful-to-experience Gesamtkunstwerk combining eclectic text fragments, visual images, singers and musicians (often the Ensemble Modern). Here, the orchestra is stripped of strings except for six string basses; a piano and sample keyboard have been added. The work is in 19 short flowing sections inspired by compositional fragments from his own works: self-quotations awakened to new life. Sampler sounds start most sections, including a lion’s roar, rushing water, an ashtray striking a steel guitar; the amplification makes it hard to determine where the sound originates in the hall. Short motives based on syncopated rhythms are often repeated, and a dialogue among the instruments is begun. The basses play an active, shaping role. Some offbeat fragments are reminiscent of easy-to-listen-to cool jazz. One reason that Goebbels is approachable is that he uses recognizable meter: a passage’s rhythm often remains constant while the sound grows to a climax. Recurring melodies, or even melodic fragments, are much harder to find.

Nancy Chapple
www.klassik-in-berlin.de (DE), 6 March 2003