Wolfgang Rihm: Chiffre IV

Wolfgang Rihm Chiffre IV
Chiffre IV

Wolfgang Rihm: Chiffre IV

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for bass clarinet, violoncello and piano
Wolfgang Rihm
Für die Hamburgische Staatsoper und die Bayerische Vereinsbank
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Chiffre IV

Work introduction

The composer’s commentary is on Page 1: “The musicians perform cognizant that they are playing a piece for small orchestra.” The music is transparent, repeatedly with long sustained pitches and interrupted by long pauses. Fundamentally, it consists of accents and short motifs growing from pianissimo to triple forte. Bar 22 is a typical example; the bass clarinet and cello begin pp, and a crescendo leads to fff for the bass clarinet’s next pitch, while the cello plays fff and sfffz simultaneously, the piano providing the same accent. That instrument has a sfffz chord in the next bar, followed by the cello playing a sfffz pizzicato – the bass clarinet is silent. Once again, Rihm has written highly dramatic music.

Translation: Grant Chorley

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