ENNO POPPE (b.1969): Filz for Viola and Chamber Orchestra, Stoff for 9 String Players, Wald for 4 String Quartets.

Catalogue Number: 06W063

Label: Wergo

Reference: WER 7399 2

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: More of Poppe's highly structured yet organically efflorescent works; using "fractal" as a simile for musical expression is not uncommon and somewhat overused, but in Poppe's case it is entirely appropriate and sometimes literally accurate. What is remarkable is the way in which, once the ear has accepted Poppe's microtonal vocabulary, the music functions in a very recognizable way, while luxuriating in the expanded harmonic and timbral universe forever inaccessible in conventional tuning. In Filz, the interaction between soloist and ensemble is very much that of the conventional concerto, passing ideas back and forth, disputing, coming together, exploring different moods and emotional interactions - just in a wider environment; three-dimensional chess as opposed to a plane board, so to speak. The sequence of movements is slow-fast-slow, the outer movements dark-toned and uneasily discursive, the orchestra building lines and layers of texture - in gloriously "expanded" or "enriched" chords, like those of the otherworldly "megaliths" in Fett (11W064) - around the quasi-human voice of the "protagonist", while the fast central movement has something of the effect of a scherzo. The string nonet Stoff is organised in sections based on the number nine, which are in turn derived from nine basic elements, which expand exponentially into more extended motifs and even melodies. The components are typical Poppe materials; microtonally inflected lines and chord sequences moving in microtonal steps; gestures of a note or two progressing through different timbres and attacks. These algorithmically determined progressions produce a sense of vital, burgeoning, organic growth, typical of the composer’s music. Wald ("Forest") for four string quartets is an immensely varied and atmospheric work, seeming to have more to do with its title than is often the case with the composer’s oblique, ambiguous one-word names. The sense of moving through a complex space, sometimes perceiving the wood, sometimes claustrophobically surrounded by trees, is tangible, although this does not begin to describe the wealth of organic textures, light and shadow, encountered along the way. At times the spatially disposed players are treated as a large meta-instrument; at others, as discrete entities, exchanging ideas between sub-ensembles or soloists. The material is predominantly cellular, in a few cases sounding like allusions to Romantic "woodland" melody or folk music, and subject to microtonal and timbral modifications - until the final section, a stunning accumulation of ascending glissandi which increasingly dazzle and glare before disintegrating into ashen fragments. Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Ensemble Resonanz; Enno Poppe.


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