Ernst Helmuth Flammer: Works for Ensemble I (2018)
01 Gone, for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello (1992) 02 Interludium X, for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (2010) 03 Time escapes, flute-oboe-cla-pn-vn-vla-cl-db (1988) 04 Encounters with an unusual soloist, double bass (1979) 05 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 1 06 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 2 07 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 3 08 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 4 09 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 5 10 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 6 11 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 7 12 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 8 13 ..crushed, broken, ruined, fl-cla-perc-cl (2009) - 9 14 All things will have an end, fl-cla-perc-pn-vln-cl (1993)
01 Ensemble Aventure, Christian Hommel 02 Alexander Ott oboe, Walter Ifrim clarinet, Wolfgang Ruediger bassoon 03 Ensemble Aventure 04 Johannes Nied double bass 05-13 Martina Roth flute, Walter Ifrim clarinet, Nicholas Reed percussion, Beverley Ellis cello 14 Ensemble Aventure, Christian Hommel
Ernst Helmuth Flammer (b. 1949)
Ernst Helmuth Flammer was born in 1949 in Heilbronn where, until 1961, he spent his childhood. From 1961 onwards he was a pupil at the boarding school Birklehof in Hinterzarten (Black Forest), where he completed his general qualification for university entrance. After studies in Mathematics and Physics between 1969-72 he turned his attention to Musicology and the subsidiary subjects Art History and Philosophy, deciding shortly afterwards to read Music.
From 1973-79 he studied Counterpoint and Music Theory with Peter Förtig and between 1972-80 Musicology with Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht in Freiburg, where he completed his doctoral dissertation on the subject of "Politically motivated music as a compositional problem, as exemplified by Luigi Nono and Hans Werner Henze”. From 1976 onwards he also studied Composition with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough, as well as taking lessons from Paul-Heinz Dittrich. Since 1977 he has published in several specialist journals on the topics of New Music and has addressed various aesthetic questions.
Between 1980-81 he taught Music Theory, Form, and Analysis at the State Conservatoire in Trossingen, teaching too between 1982-85 at the University of Freiburg. He has been a freelance composer since 1980, and since 1985 been a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Newcastle, in Dresden, Gera, Odessa, Paris, St. Petersburg, at the Mozarteum University Salzburg and regularly at the Darmstadt Summer Courses. He has also made regular radio broadcasts over the years. 1985-87 he acted as a consultant to the City of Mönchengladbach, taking on the position of Artistic Director of the "Ensemblia” Festival there.
1985-90 he was responsible for the "ensemble recherche freiburg”, which has dedicated itself mainly to the interpretation of New Music. He founded the International Piano Forum "…antasten…” in Heilbronn in 1993, world wide a unique festival for contemporary piano music, which took place as a biennale until 2003. Ernst Helmuth Flammer has obtained numerous prizes and awards, from Baden-Baden, Dresden, Freiburg, Hanover, Paris, Parma, Rome and Stuttgart e.g. He has received many commissions within Germany and abroad. His works have been performed at a plethora of festivals and broadcast by many national and foreign radio networks. A portrait of the composer appeared as a CD on the WERGO label in 1994, adding to the other recordings already in existence.
In 2005 the first recording appeared on the ORGANUM CLASSICS label of the extensive organ cycle superverso, with Christoph Maria Moosmann. Since 2001 he has concentrated on various related activities, especially in Latin America, and also conducted the Janus Ensemble, based in Karlsruhe. Since 2003 Ernst Helmuth Flammer has taught Composition and Musicology at the "Carl Maria von Weber” Conservatoire in Dresden.
The composer in the flow of time
Like the orchestral works featured on an earlier NEOS CD of my music, the chamber works on the present CD are defined by the shape of time within the temporal flow that existentially conditions human states of being. The compositions emphatically engage with the phenomenon of time and its philosophical and anthropological context. Why emphatically? Because it affects us to such a degree as human individuals, not least as a threat to our collective existence. Time existentially determines everything that is. Every piece of matter in our world has its own time, its own speed of time. In this sense, the present, the future and the past are adapted to our conscious perception of time and are not categories of an existential objectification of time. Their simultaneity is more than a possibility: it is a fact, it is their constitution both horizontally (in temporal layers) and vertically (in ever-changing states of matter). What does time mean for our being? What does time mean in its simultaneity of several temporal layers, in its ontological, contingent state of matter? Does it extend itself into infinite nothingness? Does it concentrate itself by accelerating and beginning to ‘whirl’, like space and matter, into a ‘black hole’ – an apocalyptic vision that directly affects our temporally-rooted being?
Like that natural processuality of being as a never-ending cycle of becoming and passing away, different states of polyphony – as expressive manifestations of time and its progression, not least its individuate progression – define these compositions and my work in general to a high degree. Polyphony is an expression of movement and an expression of the simultaneity of different temporal layers; these layers can only relatively be dissociated as past, present and future as lived places of consciousness. Future is therefore anticipated past. Polyphony, which unfolds at different speeds of progression and varies those speeds by means of distension and compression (prolatio major and prolatio minor), is the natural representation of these complex manifestations of time – especially its processuality – which everyone encounters in daily life, even if they are not always perceived consciously. From this perspective, polyphony is an expression of individuation, an equivalent of that leveling of hierarchical structures which leads to the utopia of the domination-free space in which – and in which alone – the human individual can freely develop its creativity. As in Bach, polyphony here also has a religious component connected to umanità: all humans are equal before God. Another aspect is also important: according to Heraclitus’s insight – which one can only call breathtaking in its historical context – that ‘we never step twice into the same river’, all that exists is not static, and is thus discontinuous (polyphony and polymorphy), subject to constant change.
Dahingegangen [Passed Away], composed in 1992, refers to the transition to the beyond, become time and actual being. Dahingegangen refers to the consciousness of what cannot be grasped with the aid of the human intellect; Dahingegangen refers to the virtual ground of being, of which actual human existence is merely an image. In the first part, the acceleration of temporal progress is conveyed as an aural impression through carefully composed changes of event density, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the music symbolizes the development of the individual. In the second part the structures fall apart, they are de-composed; polyphony is eroded and musical time slowed down to the point where it stands still and ‘passes on’ [geht dahin] to a space that is open to what lies ahead.
Interludium X was composed in 2010. It is an interlude from the jazz-like composition StalCalvin Arrived at the Beach, whose ensemble instrumentation lies somewhere between a big band and Varèse’s Octandre octet. Interludium 10 is a relatively strict three-part fugue for oboe, clarinet and bassoon.
Zeitflucht [Time-Flight], composed in 1988, works with the difference between ‘experiential time’, the subjective perception of the progression of time, and actual measurable time (temps mesuré). At the beginning of the piece, the consistent use of a 7:6 rhythm creates a sense of temporal uncertainty by ‘running’ faster than the metre. This even progression is gradually compressed using strict arithmetical methods. For the listener, this compositional concentration creates a subjective impression of accelerating to the highest tempo. In the second part of the work, the same thing happens once again to the same material, now in a completely different state of texture and musical morphology, before finally leading into a frenzied fugato in all eight instruments of this time-fleeing ensemble and, in stark contrast to Dahingegangen, collapsing in on itself as ‘haptic time’.
Begegnungen mit einem ungewöhnlichen Solisten [Encounters with an Unusual Soloist], composed in 1979, is one of the earliest existing pieces for a solo instrument that was not treated as such for a long time – hence the title. Two individuals whose natures correspond to those of Schumann’s Florestan and Eusebius – the one spirited, the other more quiet – initially appear in stark contrast, but gradually enter a dialogue before becoming estranged once again and speaking at cross purposes; this subject matter is still very relevant today. The instrument is probed in extreme depth, both in its playing techniques and its articulations, allowing possibilities of interpretation to grow. In formal terms, Begegnungen mit einem ungewöhnlichen Solisten draws on Classical rondo form, occupying a middle ground between a closed and an open rondo form – open in the sense of progression as a never-ending, open process in contingent being beyond its restriction to the haptic space and temps mesuré (measurable time). Although the final section refers heavily to the opening by, like the latter (and unlike the traditional rondo), being not a refrain element but rather a metamorphotic one, it fundamentally differs from the strong closure of the first part through its opening into the silence of eternità.
In …zerstoben, durchbrochen, zerfallen… [...dispersed, broken, crumbled...], composed in 2009, nine miniatures document the breakdown of all temporal order, of temporal relativity, and make it seem virtual, a collapse of perception and thus of certainties. Three quick parts contrast with slower, calm sections. In the second part we hear a fugue, acting as a flight from the reality of ‘breaking apart’, of the collapse and disintegration of everything that had so far been interpreted as good and right, including many illusions. The shorter sixth part is marked by a wild stretta which, though very rigorously composed, leaves the impression of a collapse of order, of a processual destruction in which individual elements are left in ruins. The eighth part, the shortest, once more recalls earlier elements with its extremely concise and concentrated triple counterpoint, and makes this concentrated time disappear into a black hole, as it were.
All Ding will haben ein End, Schlussstück für Kammerensemble [All Things Come to an End, closing piece for chamber ensemble], composed in 1993, is placed at the end of the present CD because of its title. In the outer sections, one event polyphonically drives another ahead, always in a lively state. Here, unlike in Zeitflucht, the acceleration of temporal perception is evoked through the systematic, yet non-arithmetical compression of musical morphology and its structures until the end of the piece. In a middle section that is rhythmically pronounced because it is mostly in rhythmic unison, interrupted by a brief moment of repose, the racing of time seems to have got out of joint. A process of escape from the rigidity of the repetitive, ‘racing’ middle section introduces the final section, until this leads into a polyphony that is all the denser (see Zeitflucht), at the same time as a deliberate reduction of musical articulation. It is no coincidence that All Ding will haben ein End uses the ‘Pierrot lunaire’ instrumentation, as the piece (recalling the ‘Pierrot subject’) is characterized by abrupt, almost film-like shifts of tableau or scene. Its rondo form can, as in Begegnungen, be understood as a sign of the process of being that consists of ‘becoming and passing away’.
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