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The sonic world of Chiffre VI differentiates it from the previous pieces in the cycle; it does without piano, while winds and strings keep the balance; the atmosphere is different, too. The music is less dramatic, more playful, even if some of the cycle’s characteristics recur – the insistent repetition of pitches, the sforzatissimi, the steep crescendi from pianissimo to fortissimo.
Again and again, Rihm shows indifference to beauty of sound, calling for “slow, torturous glissando,” for example, and instructing the E-flat clarinet to play “only the highest and ugliest notes” – and yet the piece is a buoyant work, full of joie de vivre.
Translation: Grant Chorley