Universal Edition - Wolfgang Rihm – Psalmus

Wolfgang Rihm

Wolfgang Rihm

Year of composition: 2007
Subtitle: Music
Scored for: for bassoon and orchestra
Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
Soloists: bassoon
Instrumentation: 2 2 2 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc, hp, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in A
2nd clarinet in A
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
violin I
violin II
Commissioned by: Ein Kompositionsauftrag der Bayerischen Staatsoper, München
Duration: 17′
Dedication: geschrieben für Pascal Gallois und Kent Nagano mit denm Bayerischen Staatsorchester, München

gewidmet Dieter Rexroth in freundschaftlicher Verbundenheit
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Audio Excerpt


World Première

Location: Nationaltheater München / Germany
Date: 27.07.2007
Orchestra: Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Conductor: Kent Nagano
Main Soloists: Pascal Gallois, bsn

Work Introduction

Kent Nagano is one of those major conductors who dedicate themselves with conviction and genuine passion to the cause of contemporary music. One of the composers whose work he has advocated is Wolfgang Rihm: Nagano has programmed many of his pieces, premiering some of them (such as Europa nach dem letzten Regen  in Dresden in 2003).

Psalmus could be the first work he has actually commissioned. That it has been scored for bassoon solo and orchestra is due in no small measure to Pascal Gallois: the French bassoon player has inspired a new literature for the instrument, thanks to his indefatigable research into uncharted possibilities inherent in it – possibilities that are of tremendous interest both for composers and soloists.

The world premiere of Psalmus was coupled with a performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.

The dedicatee, Dieter Rexroth, provided programme notes for the premiere. Here is an extract:

“Wolfgang Rihm has written a work for Kent Nagano and the Bavarian State Orchestra which – through its title – obtains a religious context related to Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. Rihm has set the piece as a kind of concerto for bassoon and orchestra with a musical rhetoric rooted in the affect-laden arias and expressive ariosi of 18th century cantatas and operas. Instrumental concerto and vocal writing based on rhetoric merge into one and produce an aesthetic mixture which, interestingly enough, corresponds to the mixtures of genres and styles which characterise the Missa solemnis.

…The solo instrument in Psalmus is the bassoon. Rihm’s choice is no coincidence. This instrument has a soft, rather dry and somewhat nasal tone. However, it can also sound in turn raw, tormented or highly elegiac. The bassoon can be funny and grotesque but it is just as capable of exuding a sombre mood, uncannily haunting and then again alien and exotic. 

It possesses an enormously broad range of expression. As a solo instrument, the bassoon has something archaic about it (cf. the beginning of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps) – a quality which may have influenced Rihm’s decision. Interestingly enough, Beethoven, too, begins the Agnus Dei in his Missa solemnis with a bassoon solo… This is what Rihm takes his cue from but his composition is marked by a subjectivity that differs from Beethoven’s and it has also been inspired by Hebrew chant which sets a counterpoint to the tradition of Catholic Mass.”

study score - Psalmus

  • for bassoon and orchestra
  • Edition type: study score

study score - Psalmus

  • for bassoon and orchestra
  • Edition type: study score

full score - Psalmus

  • for bassoon and orchestra
  • Edition type: full score

full score - Psalmus

  • for bassoon and orchestra
  • Edition type: full score

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