Pressestimmen Rilke Anthology I

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Presse / by Dan Warburton

It’s often been noted that the „greatest“ classical song cycles are those that studiously avoid setting the „greatest“ poetry, so Joachim Gies is certainly setting himself a challenge in choosing to work with Rainer Maria Rilke (extracts from his „Neue Gedichte“ and „Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil“ and „Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge“). Fortunately, in choosing mezzo-soprano Ute Döring, the Berlin-based saxophonist couldn’t have found a more accomplished singer to interpret his delicate scores.

With writing as dense as Rilke’s, it is essential that his texts be printed in the original German in the booklet (they are), preferably alongside their translations (they aren’t). Translating Rilke is quite a job itself – read Robert Bly’s astute observations on the subject in his „Selected Poems of Rilke“ (Harper & Row, 1979) – finding a musical context which allows breathing space for both the texts‘ internal rhythm and their semantic complexity is another matter altogether. Curiously – paradoxically, even – the richer sound palette of the „Malte Laurids Brigge“ six-movement suite works better in this respect (Gies and Döring are here supported by the sampling skills of Michael Walz) than the five poems set in „Reflections“.

Perhaps it’s a question of the density of prose as opposed to the (apparent) simplicity of poetry, but both Rilke’s multi-levelled text and Gies‘ arsenal of extended techniques seem to resonate more sympathetically in Walz’s electronics. Improvisation / free jazz this most definitely is not, and its being released on Leo may unfortunately mean it will be unfairly dismissed by „jazz“ journalists rather than appreciated by a wider contemporary music public, but wherever it ends up, it is most worthy of your attention.

Presse / My Way

Der Berliner Saxophonist, Komponist und Rilke-Verehrer Joachim Gies hat den Anfang von Rilkes einzigem Roman und einige Gedichte als Basis für die Kompositionen von zwei Suiten ausgewählt.

Die oft getragenen, bisweilen klangmalerischen Saxophonlinien verbinden sich hier mit der klassisch ausgebildeten Mezzosopranstimme von Ute Döring, die bereits auf anderen Alben von Gies zu hören war. In der ersten, 5-teiligen Suite werden vier Gedichte gesungen und teilweise gesprochen. In der zweiten, 6-teiligen Suite werden die Passagen des Romananfangs von „Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge“ mit Stimme und Saxophon musikalisiert, wobei Samples im Hintergrund die einzelnen Teile atmosphärisch aufladen.

Das Ergebnis ist eine nachdenkliche, in eleganten Bögen daherkommende Text & Musik Angelegenheit. … (Wer) seinen eigenen Zugang zu Rilke schon gefunden hat, der wird diesem Album einiges abgewinnen können.

Presse / by Christian Carey

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke is a favorite of many composers – heck, there’s even a band named after him. Expressive of a wide range of human emotions, often dark, Rilke’s poems are ideal when to set to music, but it is no mean task to set them well! Saxophonist Joachim Gies has decided to err on the side of starkness of texture in this album of Rilke settings. He presents eleven songs: a group of five poems from Reflections and six from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Most of the works consist of Gies playing alto and tenor saxophones, plus mezzo-soprano Ute Doering; Michael Walz also lends some sampling and electronics to the second group of songs, but with a tastefully spare approach. Only in „Part Five“ does Walz hit a electronic bass-enhanced groove that seems a little nutso, especially given the gloom that precedes it.

Gies and Doering often duet together in tight, dovetailing counterpoint. By composing for saxophones and mezzo, Gies assures that the intervals between the two voices can remain relatively close. The harmonies evoked here are often reminiscent of Stravinsky’s late, post-tonal vocal music — angular, dry, even acerbic. The austerity of most of the music is a fitting counterpart to the poetry’s desolate demeanor. Rilke Anthology I is an example of modern classical music that leans heavily on its 20th Century forebears (the aforementioned Stravinsky, but also at times Schoenberg and even Hindemith) while attempting to create something fresh-sounding.