Reinhold Freidl – KRAFFT

Posted: 17 October 2020 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

zeitkratzer productions – zkr0027 – 23RD October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

As the founder of one of Europe’s leading avant-garde orchestral ensembles in the form of zeitkratzer, whose releases include recordings of Metal Machine Music, works by Stockhausen, and two collections of Whitehouse ‘covers’, Reinhold Friedl is very much at the forefront of contemporary classical. Formed in 1997 with Friedl on piano (sometimes a ‘prepared’ piano, a la John Cage), they’ve established themselves a formidable force, incorporating elements of free experimentalism and drone.

For the recording of KRAFFT, the nine-piece ensemble came together with another respected musical collective, Ensemble 2e2m, a chamber group from Paris dating back to 1972, known for their unique sound and the first recordings of Giacinto Scelsi’s music.

As the press release recounts, KRAFFT for orchestra was composed in 2016 as a commission from the French State and premiered in Paris and Marseille. It was also the first meeting of the two ensembles – and yet the come together perfectly to create four immense, drone-orientated passages.

Being Friedl, there is a great deal of detail and precision behind the methodology: this is certainly not random stop-start hums and thrums or elongated notes played with varying – and usually increasing – intensity, and for this reason I shall quite at length: ‘KRAFFT is a minimalist maximal composition: all instruments play in rhythmic unison throughout. Only the sounds and their combinations change relentlessly throughout the piece. KRAFFT is spelt wrong on purpose to create an ironic-onomatopoetic rendition of the German term “Kraft”, meaning “power” or “force”. The listener is exposed to a sonic undertow. The notion of huge power and force is connected here to clandestine and unknown rules controlling the progression of sound; something is happening, but we do not exactly know what, when or how. KRAFFT is composed with the help of the computer program TTM (Textural Transformation Machine), developed by Reinhold Friedl to sculpture multiple random processes.’

The TTM formed part of Friedl’s Ph.D. at Goldsmiths University London, and was developed by the composer to sculpture texture transformations with the help of sophisticated random processes. As such, Friedl’s compositional methodology develops way in which John Cage incorporated random determiners within his work, and in using a ‘machine’ to make those random selections, he distances the ‘composer’ from the composition and increases the likelihood of true randomisation.

Returning to KRAFFT, there is a clear trajectory to the composition as a whole, namely an intensity and volume which increases incrementally as it progresses over the course of half an hour. The first part is soft, light, even playful, moving into somewhat darker, more discordant territory onto the second.

By part 4, immense booming low-end notes surge and rumble with such density as to have an almost physical force. Atop of this, the smaller strings scrape, squawk and twitter like birdsong and feedback. It’s an eleven-minute tidal wave of sound that swells and surges to a crescendo of truly enormous proportions. While it’s safe to say it’s unlikely to be aired on Classic FM, KRAFFT is as accomplished and powerful orchestral work as you’ll hear all year.

AA

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