BERND ALOIS ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970): Alagoana - Caprichos Brasileiros (Ballet), Stille und Umkehr, Photoptosis, Sinfonie in einem Satz.
Catalogue Number: 10Q009
Description: From the composer whose stylistic diversity and all-inclusiveness are about as wide as any in music history, four strikingly different works, beginning with the ballet suite Alagoana, based on Brazilian mythology and musical styles. An early work (c.1940-1950), this infectiously attractive score, full of gloriously technicolor orchestration and lush harmony - admitting some ingeniously unexpected shadowy ambiguity to be sure, but entirely approachable throughout - reminds us that before the experimental modernism of the 1960s, Zimmermann had already traversed many twentieth century mainstream styles; here the most striking similarities are to Milhaud and Ravel, believe it or not. The Sinfonie seems to compress the content and argument of a full-scale post-romantic symphonic canvas into an event-filled quarter hour. The piece is far from completely atonal, potently dramatic and tautly argued, with a sense of irresistible momentum. The massive, slow-moving magma flow of Photoptosis, with its extraordinary sonorities and partially subsumed and dissolved yet still disturbingly recognisable collaged quotes from Beethoven, Scriabin and so on, would assure Zimmermann's place in music history as one of the most powerfully original musical minds of our time, even if he had composed nothing else. Stille und Umkehr was the composer's penultimate work, an odd, static, withdrawn and introverted progression of subtly shifting sounds, anchored by the failing heartbeat of an incessant, obsessive, irregular drumbeat, perhaps hinting at the unhappy composer's mental state in the months leading up to his suicide. Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz; Karl-Heinz Steffens.