26. March 2010

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Dance of death - fragments sound collage by Christoph Cech


Janus Ensemble: Christoph Cech (direction); Sonja Korak (flutes); Fabian Rucker (soprano sax, alto sax, bass clarinet); Balduin Wetter (cornet); Mario Rom (trumpet, flugelhorn); Alexander Gheorghiu, Simon Frick (violin); Elaine Koene (viola); Arne Kircher (cello); Tibor Kövesdi (double bass, electric bass); Christian Heitler (piano, cembalo); Berndt Thurner (percussion); Raimund Vogtenhuber (electronics)

soloists: Anna Hauf, Elfi Aichinger, Agnes Heginger, Johann Leutgeb

pupils from the BORG Krems grammar school & teenage refugees (Integrationshaus Vienna)

The “Dance of Death” frieze in Lübeck’s St. Mary’s Church, made by Bernt Notke in 1463 under the impression of the plague, extended along 30 metres of length. From the pope and the emperor to the simple salesman and the civil servant reached the parade of people doomed to die—nobody can escape, not even wealth and power may redeem oneself. Before death, all are equal. In 1942, during a Second World War bomb attack, the Lübeck Dance of Death was completely destroyed. The theme of the death dance has ruled art ever since. The Austrian composer Christoph Cech relates the death dance to modern times. In his subject, some figures of the Lübck Dance of Death transform into present-day archetypes of people exposed, with the empress, for instance, being transformed into a supermodel. To Cech, the figures provide interesting sub-themes. The fascination of beauty, for instance, ends in diseases like bulimia. While people today die of hunger in the Third World, the affluent First World depends on nutritional scientists in order to survive. “Death dance fragments” Christoph Cech calls his compositions for three female singers, one male singer, an instrumental ensemble, electronics and a whispering, speaking and roaring choir Cech wants to cast with six teenagers from the Krems grammar school and six teenagers from the Traiskirchen refugee camp. The composer transfers many facets of the eternal death dance to his dramatic works in which the holy number of 12 plays an important role: 12 choir members; 12 figures from the dance of death that become alive in a musical way; 12-tone rows, whose single tones unfold in their own modal space; rhythmical sequences with the sum of 12 from even and uneven metres. 12 ways to describe death, death made come alive as a transition. Transition is movement is cybernetics is light: the dance of death as an integral part of life. As unpredictable as death the course of the composition will be; the single textures and fragments will be like musical phases of matter and lead into the open, into diffuse brightness of uncertainty. The musical history of the Dance of Death leads from a monophonic “dies irae” sequence of the Middle Ages to Liszt’s, Honegger’s and Distler’s confrontation with the topic and end up in Cech’s composition having its premiere at Imago Dei.

an event organised by
musika and logo klangraum

© Bernadette C. Reiter

© Bernadette C. Reiter