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The temptation is strong to interpret the subtitle, “Im Innersten” [at the core], as a reference to the close of the second movement; a section suddenly appears so reminiscent of Mahler that it suggests a quotation – a nostalgic look back at a past world which, in the third movement, devolves into Wolfgang Rihm’s. In this work, his music is again full of drama, tension and precipitous changes of mood. The fourth movement has more touches of Mahler; his spirit is quasi conjured up by Rihm’s use of his compositional material.
The 20th century returns, along with Rihm’s own world, in the fifth movement, with his own drama and passion. After a short intermezzo comes the sixth movement, wherein the old and new worlds alternate, until the music echoes away into nothing.
The piece is dedicated to Alfred Schlee for his 75th birthday.