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Wolfgang Rihm: Klangbeschreibung 1

  • for 3 orchestral groups
  • orch 1: picc, bass cl,, perc(1), hp(2), pno, vln(2); orch 2: cl(4), cbsn, hn(4), tbn(2), tuba, perc(2), vc(4), cb(4); orch 3: fl(5), ob(3), tpt(5), tbn(2), perc(3), pno
  • Duration: 20’
  • Instrumentation details:
    orchestra 1: piccolo
    bass clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb))
    contrabass clarinet in Bb
    percussion (1 player)
    1st harp
    2nd harp
    2 violins
    orchestra 2: 1st clarinet in A
    2nd clarinet in A
    3rd clarinet in A
    4th clarinet in A
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    contrabass tuba
    percussion (2 players)
    1st violoncello
    2nd violoncello
    3rd violoncello
    4th violoncello
    1st contrabass
    2nd contrabass
    3rd contrabass
    4th contrabass
    orchestra 3: 1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute
    4th flute
    5th flute
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    4th trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    5th trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    percussion (3 players)
  • Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
  • Commission: Auftrag des Südwestfunk

Work introduction

The Klangbeschreibung cycle is a key work in the music of the 1980s, and not only in the oeuvre of Rihm himself. Despite the large forces, the sound remains supple, “described” in that almost every note has a different colour, giving listeners the impression that instruments and groups of them are signalling one another or exchanging material. In doing so, they take their time; the tempo is slow for the most part, the notes are separated by pauses, there are sudden outbursts typical of Rihm which seem to be inconsequential. It is difficult to elucidate the sonic description (= Klangbeschreibung) – it has its own laws. The composer has an explanation at the ready: “Nothing is described.”

Translation: Grant Chorley


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Donaueschingen (DE)
Michael Gielen

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