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The genesis of this work was a commission from the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, asking Wolfgang Rihm to write a prologue to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. Rihm’s composition takes stock of Mahler’s symphonic achievement and uses its often fractured language as its starting point for his own deeply personal form of expression. The result runs the whole gamut of styles between the extremes of weighty hammer blows and Adagio cantilena. There is a great variety of percussive sounds, from tapping on wood to bright, metallic striking, which occasionally form a bridge to the interjections of woodwind and brass. The title Abkehr – literally ‘renunciation’ indicates that, for Rihm, it was not a question of ‘turning towards’ but, on the contrary, of asserting his own, uncompromising standpoint.