Review of Les Consolationes by Helmut Lachenmann, Kairos 2008
This review covers a serious gap in my blog. It was mandatory to review this double CD of the excellent Kairos record label entirely dedicated to the music of Helmut Lachenmann.
It was really obligatory, not only in consideration of the role and place that Lachenmann holds within contemporary music but also and above all for the fact that in this double work we find his most famous piece for guitar: Salut fur Caudwell composed and dedicated in 1977 to the same performers who make this recording, the guitarists Wilhelm Bruck and Theodor Ross. It’s a metaphysical piece. Where the silences and the sounds that come out of the two six-stringed instruments make a not-delimited space for a work of political significance designed in honor of the Marxist poet Christopher Caudwell, who died in that great melting pot of hopes and utopias that was the war Spanish civilian against dictator Franco, backed by fascists and nazists.
But the guitar finds its place also in the 2004 Concertini (played in 2011 in Milano Musica with the presence on the guitar of Elena Càsoli) another opera where the title deceives to leave place not to integrated musical visions but to occasions for the individual instruments, while giving way to the disturbing and murmuring voices of Les Consolationes, dated 1967-69, 1977-78.
Does this music describe something real? Can these forms of mental abstraction come to realize something concrete? Is there a function associated with the form? Is it pure art in itself? Selfish, therefore independent and immortal by definition?
Beyond these questions, to which I can not give an answer, are the strong feelings given by listening and in this sense these music differ (I speak of the final result, obviously) from certain ultraminimal forms present in the freely improvised music so dear to characters like Derek Bailey. Lachenmann’s words of praise by Luigi Nono remain: “he is a musician endowed with a prismatic, timbric, temporal capacity for invention, to subject the sound material to transformations of a rapidity which, at the beginning, is difficult to perceive.”