Wolfgang Rihm: Phantom und Eskapade

Wolfgang Rihm Phantom und Eskapade
Phantom und Eskapade

Wolfgang Rihm: Phantom und Eskapade

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for violin and piano
Wolfgang Rihm
Ein Kompositionsauftrag Paul Sachers
Für Anne-Sophie Mutter
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Phantom und Eskapade

Work introduction

As generally defined, “phantom” and “escapade” are commonly understood terms. Perhaps Wolfgang Rihm was honing them somewhat finer when he chose them for the title of this composition; but their initially strange coupling does reveal something of the work’s particular dual – or better, multiple – character. And the subtitle “pieces of fantasy” is equivocal – why not “fantasy pieces?” – perhaps because the term would evoke too much of the 19th century and, besides, would not be the point. Looking at Rihm’s work closely, it is a multilayered series of small constructs or episodes – or fantasies – which ultimately turn out to be a “piece,” despite all their diversity.

Thus the strands of the piece unfold and develop: pensive in the almost effusively lyrical way beholden to Rihm since the late 1980s and early 1990s, then virtually elegiacally straightforward, then robust and energetic, even savage, or capricious, virtuosic, narrational, balladic. Dancelike music with a Hungarian flavour abruptly turns into hymnal devotion, the agogics often changing from bar to bar. Of course, none of it happens with kaleidoscopic randomness; although it is organised according to flights of fantasy, it is all held together with the unifying factor of the composer’s persona.

Rihm is here in a position which he once expressed with regard to Ferruccio Busoni: “Tracking down the New, yet never fleeing from the past” – an ambivalence intellectually equating him with Alban Berg.

Josef Häusler

Translation Copyright © 2012 by Grant Chorley

Special prints

Phantom und Eskapade

Wolfgang Rihm: Phantom und Eskapade

score and parts
for violin and piano , 17’

World première

Schloß, Johannisberg (DE)
Main soloists:
Ulf Hoelscher, Vl; Siegfried Mauser, Klav

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