Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany's leading composers, here plants himself in Bach's footsteps with a version of the St. Luke Passion. Rihm emphasizes spirituality in this calm unfolding of the drama. Five vocal soloists take the parts traditionally assigned to the Evangelist and Jesus; their lines are often broken into phrases taken by each singer. While alluding to his eminent predecessor, Rihm's music is thoroughly contemporary, though nowhere approaching iconoclastic avant-garde. He intersperses the Gospel text with liturgical hymns, a passage from Isaiah and a Stabat Mater, and closes the work with a setting of Paul Celan's poem Tenebrae.
Overall, the work impresses with its seriousness, its refusal to sensationalize or strive for effect, and its largely successful effort to adapt a traditional form to our times. This recording was made at the concert premiere, and Helmut Rilling, who commissioned the work, leads an intense performance that sustains interest throughout its hour and a half. Orchestra and chorus are fine, the soloists outstanding. -- Dan Davis
Last fall, a series of modern masterworks were premiered as the capstone of the yearlong commemoration of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach. Four settings of the Good Friday narrative were commission by four of the world痴 leading composers: Sofia Gubaidulina, Tan Dun, Osvaldo Golijov and Wolfgang Rihm.
First to be released by the international award winning H舅ssler Classic label is Wolfgang Rihm痴 transcendent requiem of Reconciliation, DEUS PASSUS.
For those familiar with Rihm痴 earlier work, DEUS PASSUS constitutes a new direction in his stylistic development. Absent are the violent juxtapositions and bold gestures of Rihm痴 earlier work. In their place, a delicate, carefully chosen almost 妬mpressionistic� palette has been selected. This 妬mpressionistic� approach applies equally to the texts that Rihm selected to set. Consciously selecting St. Luke痴 account of Jesus� death, specifically for it痴 lack of anti-Semitic content, Rihm deleted all non dialogue material and supplemented his 撤assion fragment� with selections from the Catholic lectionary, the Stabat Mater and poetic interpolations, concluding with a moving setting of Paul Celan痴 妬nverted prayer�, TENEBRAE.
Grammy Award winning conductor, Helmuth Rilling delivers one of the finest performances of his career, directing the Gachinger Kantorei, the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart and stellar soloists Juliane Banse, Iris Vermillion, Cornelia Kallisch, Christoph Pr馮ardien and Andreas Schmidt in a score that rightfully takes it痴 place with the 20th century痴 登ther� great St. Luke Passion, the Penderecki 撤assio et more domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Lucam�.