Friday, May 21, 2010

"Silence To Be Beaten" - Wolfgang Rihm

Wolfgang Rihm is an incredibly prolific German composer.  His chamber orchestra work "Silence to Be Beaten" is a very significant work for me, as it was upon hearing this work performed live as a freshman in college that I feel I was officially "introduced" to contemporary music.  Like most pre-college oboists, I was all things orchestra; youth orchestras, summer festival orchestras, orchestra excerpts, etc. Since the age of 11, I had been part of some orchestra or another and I saw no reason to deviate from the path once I began school. The student new music ensemble "Ossia" performed this work in 2002 and I remember being totally amazed and excited about the raw intensity, musicality and virtuosity that the piece offers. I was completely hooked and the life path of pursuing a traditional orchestra job suddenly veered in a very new, but thrilling direction.

I bring up this piece because I am currently at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and to my surprise three days ago, learned that we will be performing this work, along with three other Rihm chamber orchestra pieces, next weekend! Though it does not exceed the traditional oboe pitch boundaries (though there are plenty of extreme dynamics in the highest register), it feels very appropriate to be rehearsing this work on the Loboe.

Since this is my plug for Rihm's music, I must also mention his brilliant oboe concerto titled "Music für oboe und Orchester".  This is a work that demands an immense amount of flexibility from the low-Bb to the second Bb above the staff.  I think it is amongst the most important new works for oboe and hope that it will start to become a staple of the literature.
Wolfgang Rihm: Musik für Oboe und Orchester; Styx und Lethe; Dritte Musik; Erster Doppelgesang

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