Yes, cleverly composed music can also be a lot of fun. On 11 March, the composer who has been celebrated for his Tango Nuevo by all generations worldwide for decades, would have turned 100: Astor Piazzolla. Skilled in contemporary modernism, he transforms the tango into concert music full of subtlety and wit. The pieces thus become an unparalleled fireworks of emotions. In the important late phase, it is not least the concert with his quintet in Cologne in 1984 that remains one of the most exciting memories of Astor Piazzolla. Let’s celebrate him!
Aribert Reimann, one of the world’s most important composers of our time, is first of all a master of vocal music, who always writes for voice (never against it). This is evident in his numerous lieder, but especially in his large operas, the plots of which Reimann primarily selects from world literature and transforms them into unique forms through his own musical language. In all compositions, his music possesses a powerful emotionality which directly captures his listeners.
On March 4, 2021, Aribert Reimann celebrates his 85th birthday – congratulations!
Twenty years have passed since the release of the first CD in the series Franz Schreker’s Masterclasses in Vienna and Berlin – a long period in which the works of many of Schreker’s pupils have gradually received wide recognition after decades of being forgotten and suppressed.
Born into a Korean working-class family, Younghi Pagh-Paan became the first woman in Germany to hold a chair in composition in 1994, where she became an important teacher for the younger generation. Her energetic yet gentle music seeks connections between Korean tradition and European modernity, both traditions that are pushed to the edge of social perception by commercial mass culture. To celebrate Pagh-Paan’s 75th birthday on 30 November 2020, WERGO has released the unique portrait CD “Silken Thread” with excellent first recordings. The book “Auf dem Weg zur musikalischen Symbiose” by Schott Music has also just been published to match this.
Helmut Lachenmann’s composing and aesthetic reflection has influenced New Music more than almost any other composer of his generation. For a long time opinions were divided with regard to the often noise-like musical lines, and for decades WERGO has published recordings of his compositions and has accompanied his development from the 1960s until today. Only recently the CD “Other Stories” was released by the Trio Accanto, which contains, among others, his latest irritatingly cheerful, tonally popular pieces – including a vocal interlude by the composer. On November 27, 2020, Lachenmann celebrates his 85th birthday – congratulations!
The WERGO CD “Earthing” with compositions by Clara Iannotta has been awarded the Quarterly German Record Critics’ Award, List of Best Recordings 4/2020, category “Contemporary Music“.
In the music of the Italian composer Clara Iannotta, conceptual thinking and technique are combined with imagery and subtlety. This is particularly evident in the four-string quartets, interpreted here by the phenomenal Jack Quartet. In the oldest from 2013, the natural sound remains untouched, and it is only enhanced by materials such as bird songs or styrofoam. Sometimes it shimmers sharply, sometimes it scratches darkly. This evocative, mysterious soundscape full of acoustic creatures is electronically amplified and distorted in the newer pieces. A sound full of elemental, deeply moving energy!
(for the jury: Thomas Meyer)
Clara Iannotta: Earthing
Luciano Berio (1925-2003) profoundly influenced contemporary music since the 1950s and would have celebrated his 95th birthday today. His approach to European folklore and re-contextualizations of citation within a postmodern aesthetic are inseparably connected with his name. His famous “Sequenza” series is considered a paradigmatic example of a “work in progress”. As head of electronic studios in Milan and Paris, he also set important accents in this field.
Toshio Hosokawa has worked in Europe and Japan for extended periods, and the majority of his works have premiered in Europe. His musical roots are based on tradition al Japanese musical concepts; key among them is ‘the calligraphy of sound’. Every sound in his music has a life of its own: once it has been born, it contains a calligraphic line and keeps transforming itself within its individual existence. Hosokawa listens acutely to a certain sound, immerses hirnself into it and listens to its inner workings. The sound gradually shapes the harmony of the universe in which humans merge into nature, acknowledging that they are actually part of nature. His music can be a ray ofl ight in these difficult times. On 23rd October it is Hosokawa’s 65th anniversary.
Xiaogang Ye is the compositional voice of his native country, China. He explores sounds, nature, and the spirituality of his homeland in works that have received acclaim across the world. He has also left his mark on the music scene in modern China and its exchange with other cultures as the founder and artistic director of the festival Beijing Modern and his committed work for the Chinese Music Couneil. Since his studies in America, the composer has developed a particularly close relationship with musical life in the USA. One of the core aspects of his artistic activities is the harmonization of these two musical worlds and the emphasis of their common values. On September 23rd he celebrates his 65th birthday.
On 19 August 2020, the composer Heinrich Poos died at the age of 91. The composer, who lived in Rhineland-Palatinate and Berlin, stands in the great tradition of the polyphonic choral music of Heinrich Isaak, Heinrich Schütz and Ernst Pepping and is one of the most important German choral composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. – An obituary