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After initially composing the piece for the Spohr Festival in Kassel in 1979, Rihm carried on that same year to make a cycle of five Abgesangszenen [“farewell scenes”], the last of which he completed in 1981. The first of them is sombre, ominous music, quite slow, its dynamics restrained – almost seven minutes pass before a fortissimo outbreak. Initially, fragments of a melody pass among several instrumental groups; then the melody emerges in its entirety and the music gains momentum, although its sombre atmosphere remains throughout.
Translation © 2012 by Grant Chorley