Reiko Fueting’s "names, erased" features works of exquisitely crafted chamber music performed by members of New York City’s most celebrated contemporary ensembles, including Either/Or Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. This collection of pieces illustrate Füting’s interest in the philosophical and artistic conception of memory, as well as the significant role past works of art play in shaping his compositions’ form, musical material, and conception.
|01||Kaddish: The Art of Losing|
Kaddish: The Art of Losing
|John Popham, cello, Yegor Shevtsov, piano||15:40|
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano||0:59|
|Miranda Cuckson, violin||8:34|
|04||"Fiel ein Stück Himmel..."|
"Fiel ein Stück Himmel..."
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano||0:55|
|Joshua Rubin, clarinet, Yegor Shevtsov, piano||9:17|
|06||"Das alte Weingut..."|
"Das alte Weingut..."
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano||0:50|
|John Popham, cello||7:00|
|08||"Die Teiche im Dunst..."|
"Die Teiche im Dunst..."
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano||0:46|
|09||ist - Mensch - geworden/land - haus - berg|
ist - Mensch - geworden/land - haus - berg
|Luna Kang, flute, Jing Yang, piano, Yegor Shevtsov, piano||10:36|
|10||"Hoch im Gebirge..."|
"Hoch im Gebirge..."
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano||0:51|
|Olivia De Prato, violin, David Broome, piano||6:27|
|12||finden - suchen|
finden - suchen
|Eric Lamb, alto flute, John Popham, cello, Yegor Shevtsov, piano||3:15|
|13||"...und ich bin Dein Spiegel"|
"...und ich bin Dein Spiegel"
|Nani Füting, mezzo-soprano, Mivos String Quartet: Olivia de Prato, Josh Modney, Violins, Victor Lowrie, viola, Mariel Roberts, cello||10:24|
Reiko Füting’s names, erased features exquisite works of chamber music performed by members of New York City’s most celebrated contemporary ensembles, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Either/Or Ensemble, and the Mivos String Quartet. This collection of works, spanning the past 13 years, illustrates Füting’s interest in the philosophical and artistic conception of memory, as well as the significant role past works of literature, music, and art play in shaping his compositional forms and musical material. In works such as the title track, names, erased and the solo violin work, tanz.tanz, Füting draws inspiration from past artistic masters. In names, erased, musical material from Bach, Berg, and Ligeti is compositionally treated to reflect the erasing process of Robert Rauschenberg in his famous Erased de Kooning Drawing. tanz. tanz is based on the choral tunes in Bach’s Chaccone, that were discovered by the German musicologist Helga Thoene. These choral tunes are woven throughout the Chaconne and serve as the source material for Füting’s powerful work. Interspersed between the album’s longer works are vocal settings of haikus from Reiner Bonack, captivatingly interpreted by mezzo soprano Nani Füting. These evocative settings paint vivid scenes, as Füting explores a wide palette of vocal range and timbre. In the album’s final track, Nani Füting is joined by the Mivos String Quartet for a stunning performance of “Und Ich bin Dein Spiegel”, a work based on music by the German minnesinger Neidhart von Reuntal and fragmentary writings by the Beguine mystic Mechthild von Magdeburg. This work, like the rest of the album, finds a timeless beauty, as references to Medieval music blend with a contemporary language, and the musical past and present blur.
Recording Studio: Oktaven Audio, Yonkers NY (oktavenaudio.com)
Recording Engineer: Ryan Streber
Producer: Reiko Füting
Photographers: Sean Curran, Peter Dressel (portrait)
Publishers: Reiko Füting, Abundant Silence Publishing (tanz.tanz)
Design: Marc Wolf (marcjwolf.com)
Special thanks to:
My mother, my father
My wife, my son
My teachers Winfried Apel, Jörg Herchet, Nils Vigeland
My mentors Christfried Brödel, Ekkehard Klemm, Lewis Nielson, Ulrich Siegele
My friends Peter Caleb, Bradley Colten, Sean Curran, Kathleen Furthmann,
Michael Flade, Carsten Gerth, Michael Grossmann, Tilo Krause, Dan Lippel,
John Popham, Axel Scheidig, Yegor Shevtsov, Matthias Vieweg
Reiko Füting was born in 1970 in Königs Wusterhausen in the German Democratic Republic. He studied composition and piano at the Dresden Conservatory (Germany), Rice University, Manhattan School of Music, and Seoul National University (South Korea). Some of his most influential teachers have been Jörg Herchet and Nils Vigeland (composition), and Winfried Apel (piano). In addition to being a composer, he is an avid performer who has appeared in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Since 2000, Füting has been teaching composition and theory at Manhattan School of Music, where he serves as the chair of theory department. He has also taught vocal accompanying at the Conservatory of Music and Theater in Rostock, Germany, and appeared as guest faculty and lecturer at universities and conservatories around the world.
At first, listening to the remarkably original music of German composer Reiko Füting is somewhat akin to eavesdropping on a conversation in a foreign language; a general sense of the thrust of the discussion emerges via changes in pitch and gesture, and an occasional cognate or familiar phrase sneaks out to fill in gaps. But ultimately one must learn the language, even if just in an elemental way, to comprehend the full story. My use of this literary metaphor for Füting’s music follows from the structure and pacing of this recording, which consists of thirteen numbers of varied length (47 seconds to fifteen plus minutes) for solo instruments and voice, duos, and finally, voice and string quartet. It comes across as a kind of song cycle, and yet, these are all individually conceived works, written across a fourteen year span (the oldest piece is from 2000). Further, Füting employs a variety of harmonic styles and instrumental techniques. So what makes this such a cohesive package? First of all, there is a distinct voice to be heard that is consistently curious and experimental, although not in the brazen manner of a Ligeti or a Stockhausen. This is a kind of gentle experimentation, with tweaks to cello technique, or vocal tics, added not as a novelty, but as a means to an expressive end. Repeated listening enhances the meaning of the music, much as continued exposure to a foreign language leads to comprehension of the words.
- Peter Burwasser, September 2015
First impressions, as we all know, can be wrong: presented with Reiko Füting's names, erased, I immediately thought it might in some way be connected to the events of 9/11, given its glass skyscraper cover photo and elegiac title. In such a scenario, one imagines the German-born composer (b. 1970), like others before him, honouring the memory of those whose lives were taken on that sunny September morn fourteen years ago. Though Füting has taught composition and theory at the Manhattan School of Music since 2000, his debut full-length turns out to be a more straightforward affair in being a collection of contemporary chamber music that's neither overtly conceptual in nature nor weighted down by tragedy. If there is an overall theme, it has do with the processes of memory as well as the manner by which past works of art affect the form later works assume. It's clearly not insignificant that the Robert Rauschenberg work referenced by Füting in the titular work is the infamous 1953 piece Erased de Kooning Drawing, a choice that suggests Füting too has wrestled with the impact on his own compositional process by those who preceded him.
names, erased is a family affair, too, with his wife, mezzo-soprano Nani Füting a recurring presence on the recording, and one piece dedicated to Johann Davin Füting, presumably the couple's young son. Not only does names, erased provide a comprehensive account of Füting's breadth and interests as a composer, it's also an in-depth reflection of the cultural world he inhabits, with Bach, Berg, Boulez, Feldman, Debussy, Schumann, and Ligeti referenced in the music, as well as non-musical figures such as Rauschenberg, Elizabeth Bishop, Haruki Marukami, and Goethe. The soundworld as presented is remarkably rich, with Nani Füting joined on the recording by the Mivos Quartet, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and cellist John Popham, among others. The settings range from unaccompanied vocal, violin, and cello performances to piano duets involving clarinet, flute, and violin as well as an album-closing vocal-and-string quartet combination.
One of the album's most appealing aspects has to do with structure and sequence. In“...gesammeltes Schweigen” (“...collected silence”), five solo vocal settings of haikus (by Reiner Bonack) appear as single-minute vignettes in amongst the longer works, a strategy that allows for a refreshing degree of contrast in duration and sonority; in addition, the short piece offers a refreshing opportunity to catch one's breath after the sustained intensity of a longer work such as the cello-and-piano meditation Kaddish: The Art of Losing. Stylistically, Füting's compositions fit comfortably within the contemporary classical sphere; at the same time, they're profoundly informed by the work Bach and others produced, as shown by direct references to their works that Füting threads into his own.
The performances by all concerned are stellar throughout, but the playing of pianist Yegor Shevtsov, who provides sterling accompaniment in separate pieces to clarinetist Joshua Rubin, alto flutist Eric Lamb, and cellist John Popham, merits singling out. tanz.tanz (dance.dance), which is based on an analysis of Bach's Chaconne, is enlivened by violinist Miranda Cuckson in a standout performance, and flutist Luna Kang elevates ist - Mensch - geworden (was - made - man) with a similarly memorable display. Still, highlighting individual pieces seems a tad misguided, given how much one experiences names, erased as a cumulative whole. In weaving solo and chamber settings into an encompassing whole, the collection presents as in-depth an introduction to Füting's world as could possibly be imagined.
Ron Schepper, Textura, November 2015
Reiko Füting was born in 1970 in Königs Wusterhausen in the German Democratic Republic, studying composition and piano at the Dresden Conservatory; Rice University, Houston; the Manhatten School of Music and Seoul National University, South Korea. As well as composition, Füting has performed throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. He teaches composition and theory at the Manhattan School of Music and has appeared as guest faculty and lecturer at universities and conservatories in China, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea and the USA. He has written instrumental, chamber and orchestral works as well as choral and vocal works.
Now from New Focus Recordings comes a new release of solo, chamber and vocal works by Reiko Füting entitled namesErased
This new CD features members of New York City’s most celebrated contemporary ensembles, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Either/Or Ensemble, and the Mivos String Quartet performing works written by Füting over the past thirteen years.
In Kaddish: The Art of Losing (2008) the cello of John Popham opens bringing some quite distinctive ruminations, played remarkably. Soon the piano of Yegor Shevtsov enters quietly as the cello weaves its way ahead, a little theme showing through as it develops. The music grows in tension with a more strident, dissonant piano part and some very fine chords from the cello creating some wonderful textures and timbres. Incisive bowing from the cellist leads into a quieter passage before falling to a halt. The cello and piano slowly lead off again more gently before growing more agitated before another momentary pause. As they slowly move ahead again there is a sense of a heavy burden. Hushed vocal sounds are heard then the piano appears, leading slowly to the quiet coda that ends on a repeated single piano note.
Mezzo-soprano Nani Füting enters high up to open ‘Leises Geigenspiel...’ (Distant violin playing) (2004), slowly extracting some highly characterised vocal shapes in this, the first extract on this disc from Füting’s ‘…gesammeltes Schweigen.’ (‘...collected silence’) a setting of texts by Reiner Bonack.
tanz.tanz (dance.dance) (2010) for solo violin is based on the choral tunes in Bach’s Chaconne that were discovered by the German musicologist Helga Thoene. These choral tunes are woven throughout the Chaconne and serve as the source material for Füting. The soloist Miranda Cuckson opens, winding a line of textures, slowly adding bolder, more vibrant chords. She weaves a remarkable texture creating some very fine moments, with absolutely terrific playing. There is always a distinguishable forward line as this violinist reveals some finely shaped phrases. Throughout, a broader theme seems to be lurking. This is a formidable challenge for any violinist; here Cuckson is terrific.
Mezzo Nani Füting brings another extract from ‘…gesammeltes Schweigen’, ‘Fiel ein Stück Himmel...’ (‘Did a piece of the sky…(fall)’) in which she combines vocal sounds, sung text and occasional sprechgesang, very finely controlled.
leaving without/palimpsest (2006) is based on the old German folk tune Gesgn dich Laub (Bless you leaves) and brings clarinetist Joshua Rubin and pianist Yegor Shevtsov who opens slowly suggesting a little theme, rising in dynamics occasionally as it develops before falling to a brief halt. The music picks up slowly but halts again as the clarinet joins, bringing some finely tongued sounds between the melody. Füting often stretches the tonal abilities of the clarinet, verging on the shrill, not necessarily capitalising on the mellower aspects of the clarinet. Nevertheless, some remarkable sounds are produced as the theme moves along, Füting showing how he always manages to hold an overall musical line before ending on a simple hushed piano note.
The third extract from ‘…gesammeltes Schweigen’ is ‘Das alte Weingut...(’The old vineyard’) where Nani Füting brings a lower range as she carefully delivers some very finely shaped text, vocally quite superb.
The title work, names, erased (2012) features cellist John Popham and uses musical material from Bach, Berg, and Ligeti, compositionally treated to reflect the erasing process of Robert Rauschenberg in his famous Erased de Kooning Drawing. The cello opens by ruminating on a motif. Here again this soloist proves to be a very fine artist, allowing a theme to emerge from the closely woven texture of the opening. It is fascinating to follow the suggested musical lines that subtly emerge. There are many little subtleties in this piece that bear repeated listening before we are led to a hushed coda.
The fourth extract from ‘…gesammeltes Schweigen’ is ‘Die Teiche im Dunst...’ (‘The Ponds in Mist’) where mezzo-soprano Nani Füting rises from a lower pitch as she slowly allows the music to unfold in this remarkable, if short, piece.
ist - Mensch – geworden (was – made – man) (2014) is based on quotations from such diverse composers as Josquin, Bach, Schumann and Debussy with additional material from Boulez, Morton Feldman, Beat Furrer, Jo Kondo, Tristan Murail and Nils Vigeland. Flautist Luna Kang and pianist Jing Yang leap out suddenly as strident flute and piano chords are heard. The flute slowly subsides in more subtle textures before leading ahead with drooping notes and piano accompaniment. There are some lovely flute arabesques within a rather fragmentary line. As the flute develops the melodic theme, there are varying tempi with more strident, staccato passages. Flautist Luna Kang intersperses occasional breath and vocal sounds before repeated shrill flute phrases.
land - haus – berg (land – house – mountain) (2009) is for solo piano and takes settings of Goethe’s poemKennst du das Land, wo die Citronen blühen (Do you know the land where the lemons blossom) by Beethoven, Schumann and Wolf. Yegor Shevtsov brings a rolling theme that is nevertheless broken by rests. It is rhythmically varied, the pianist bringing a really lovely feel to the music through his fine phrasing. Later there is a repeated note like a drip, drip before the music increases in flow yet still with occasional pauses. The lovely coda arrives with a single note. This is rather a lovely piece.
The fifth and final extract from ‘…gesammeltes Schweigen’ is "Hoch im Gebirge..." (‘High in the mountains’) where mezzo Nani Füting brings some intense phrases as she moves around to a hushed coda.
light, asleep (2002) for violin and piano opens with pianist David Broome introducing a broadly fragmented theme. Violinist Olivia de Prato enters quietly bringing a longer musical line, developing the theme with some fine textures and timbres. Later there is a dissonant piano passage that develops the theme before the violin re-joins with some lovely phrases that burst out in little surges. The music moves through some very fine passages for solo violin before the coda.
finden – suchen (to find, to search) (2002) was written for a concert of works by former students of Jörg Herchet on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Here the alto flute of Eric Lamb is soon joined by cellist John Popham and pianist Yegor Shevtsov in a tentative theme, finely phrased with some lovely sonorities. Little flute trills rise out as the music is taken slowly and gently forward, building moments of more decisiveness before the flute brings the gentle end.
‘...und ich bin Dein Spiegel’ (‘and I am Your reflection’) (2002) for mezzo-soprano and string quartet was a commission for the Festival Magdeburgisches Concert and is based on excerpts from the fragmentary writing of Mechthild von Magdeburg (c.1207-1282). Mezzo-soprano Nani Füting is joined by the Mivos String Quartet (Olivia de Prato and Josh Modney (violin), Victor Lowrie (viola) and Mariel Roberts (cello).
This work gives Nani Füting a more sustained opportunity to bring her considerable vocal skills to a more extended piece. She enters alone with a simple little melody, showing her very fine voice, musical, flexible and melodic. She then varies the melody, bringing a variety of vocal techniques, moving around vocally, often showing a terrific ability to suddenly rise up high. The quartet enters slowly, picking over the theme in fragmented chords before rising in passion and developing some very fine moments with terrific textures and sonorities. When Füting re-enters she brings some declamatory phrases that complement the quartet, showing terrific control in her dynamic leaps. There is a vibrant, volatile passage for swirling string quartet strings bringing a terrific outflow of textures before Füting returns along with quieter, yet still strident, quartet textures leading to this mezzo’s final outburst at the end. This is a terrific conclusion to this disc.
It is Füting’s ability to subtly develop themes within a richer and often quite complex texture that is so attractive. The recording is detailed, revealing every texture and timbre and there are useful notes as well as full texts and English translations. This is a most welcome release.
-- Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer, October 2015
My friend and former Manhattan School of Music colleague Reiko Fueting has had a portrait CD released on New Focus Recordings.
The program is very thoughtfully constructed, with chamber pieces for varying forces interspersed with solo vocal pieces from the song cycle ” …gesammeltes Schweigen.” The latter are performed with affecting poise by Nani Fueting. The CD also includes performances by Mivos Quartet, clarinetist Joshua Rubin, flutists Eric Lamb and Luna Kang,violinist Miranda Cuckson, cellist John Popham and pianists David Broome, Yegor Shevstov,and Jing Yang.
Christian B. Carey, September 2015
Reiko Futing manages to write music that is quite busy and yet sounds barren (in a good way). The surface of the instrumental portions of the music is composed of scratches and scrapes, quick alternation between pitches, brief glimpses of harmonics as the fingers slide up the strings. There are very few gaps in the sound and almost no long held tones. Still, I sense an empty or hollow affect that I think comes from the lack of clear harmonic rhythm or traceable thematic arcs. Without a sense of progress or motion, even active music can sound static. This works well with Futing’s inspiration for many of his pieces. He lists composers from several centuries as sources for pieces like names, erased. Bach, Debussy, Ligeti, Berg, Josquin, Schumann, and Boulez all find their way into his work. Futing’s use of these musical ancestors irrespective of historical position runs counter to narratives of progress that many modernists espouse. The apparent lack of desire to move beyond the musical past parallels the lack of forward motion on the music’s surface. This style does become repetitive after several pieces in a row, but the music is easy to appreciate. George Adams, 2.2016 © American Record Guide
Born in 1970 in Königs Wusterhausen, Reiko Füting studied composition and piano at the Dresden Conservatory before moving to America (Rice University and the Manhattan School of Music) before moving again, this time to Korea (Seoul National University).
I had only previously come across Füting once before via a disc of folksong arrangements in which he was pianist and, for six of the folksongs, arranger (Twisted Folk, available from CD Baby, where there are samples available: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/paynefuting). The present disc provides a fuller picture of a questing mind and spirit. The 2014 piece for cello and piano, Kaddish: The Art of Losing (Kaddisch: Die Kunst des Verlierens) is based in formal terms on Imre Kertesz’s novel Kaddish for a Child Unborn. It is also influenced by the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and includes, as its final section, an in memoriam. The piece is fragile throughout, with bare textures and fragmentary statements from both instrumentalists punctuated by tension-laden silences. The performance is staggeringly good, hypnotic and inward-looking. The occasional use of vocal noises is subtly done, a natural part of the soundscape rather than effect for effect’s sake.
Five pieces for solo voice intersperse instrumental pieces for the main body of this disc. Korean mezzo Nani Füting is the expressive singer in these aphoristic statements from …gesammeltes Schweigen (Collected Silence). The first refers to “distant violin playing” (the vocal lines seem to point to Kurtág), and so it is entirely apposite that the very next piece is indeed for solo violin, tanz.tanz. The lines of “Das alte Weingut …” seem more allied to Webern. Vocal effects are used to great effect. When it comes to the final micro-song, “Hoch im Gebirge …”, one feels a sense of loss that one has heard the last “insertion”, surely an indicator of success in the programming here.
Violinist Miranda Cookson clearly has an affinity for contemporary music, having recorded pieces by Nono, Xenakis, Carter and Shapey, amongst others. No doubting her sterling, in fact rock solid, technique in tanz.tanz, a work based on an analysis of Bach’s Chaconne (from the D-MinorPartita) by Helga Thoerne, who is actually the work’s dedicatee. Again, the work’s title comes from a novel, this time Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Marakumi. Cookson finds drama as well as that same fragile delicacy previously encountered in Kaddish.
The 2006 piece leaving without/palimpsest for piano and clarinet is based on the 2002 solo piano piece leaving. Based on a German folk tune, it is aphoristic in nature; the instrumentarium of “piano with clarinet”, and not the other way around, is significant as it is indeed the piano that bears the brunt of the argument. The clarinet does not enter until after four minutes in. The excellent cellist John Popham, whose tone is like velvet and whose technique is remarkable, takes on names, erased of 2012. This work quotes Bach, Berg and Ligeti, while also including self-quotations. Taking its basis as the Preludes from the Bach Solo Cello Suites (and the link is easily audible), Füting effectively takes Bach for a walk into the half-lit world of contemporary solo cello.
The present disc brackets together two pieces: ist – Mensch – geworden and land – haus – berg. Both use quotation extensively. The first is for flute and piano and quotes Josquin, Bach, Schumann, and Debussy plus making reference to flute and piano works by Boulez, Feldman, Furrer, Jo Kondo, Murail and Füting’s teacher, Nils Vigeland. This is a most mysterious piece: perhaps the extensive quotations themselves point to hidden, underlying, secrets. The solo piano land – haus – berg (2009) is where one encounters the ghosts of Beethoven, Schumann and Wolf’s settings of Goethe’s Kennst du das Land?. Such a deconstructed surface allows for only slight shadows though, the type one might catch out of the corner of an eye (or, in this case, an ear); one becomes more aware of the loneliness encapsulated here.
Originally taking a 1649 song by Heinrich Albert and Simon Dach as a starting point, light, asleep in its first version of 2002, this 2010 revision again puts the quotation way in the background (“I found that he source material was reflected only in the title and general atmosphere of my composition”, says Füting in the booklet). There is something of a black processional about this piece for violin and piano. Olivia de Prato is the fine, sweet-toned violinist who, alas, is the only performer on the disc not to be given a biography in the booklet, perhaps because she is lead violinist of the Mivos Quartet. As soloist of this caliber, though, she deserves one.
Scored for alto flute, cello and piano, the short 2003 piece (revised 2011) finden – suchen is a concisely-written occasional birthday piece for a former teacher, Jörg Herchet. Finally, … und ich bin Dein Spiegel (2002, revised 2012) for mezzo and string quartet. The literary inspiration this time is Mechthild von Magdeburg (died 1282), while musical sources act as what the composer calls “time witnesses”: the Minnelied Meie, din liehter schin by Neidhart von Reuental and the medieval sequence Laudes cruces attollamus. The melding of the new and the very old is highly effective, with Füting’s aphoristic style acting as a sort of distorting mirror to the source material. The piece begins with unaccompanied voice. Nina Füting has the perfect sound for the purity of the opening. The Mivos String Quartet plays superbly, and the climactic cries of both voice and violin between six and seven minutes in carry appreciable emotional weight.
Taking its title from a variant of the title of the piece names, erased (Prélude) (so it becomes namesErased), this disc is about as stimulating as they get. We need to hear more of Reiko Füting’s individual compositional voice. Of that, there is no doubt.
- Colin Clarke, Fanfare. October 2015
Born in 1970 in the German Democratic Republic, Reiko Füting studied composition and piano at the Dresden Conservatory, Rice University, Manhattan School of Music, and Seoul National University. Since 2000, he has served on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music, where he teaches theory and composition, and continues to perform around the world as pianist as well. As far as I can tell, the present disc is the first CD devoted entirely to his work. The formatting of the CD is a bit unusual in that it intersperses individual songs from Füting’s cycle, …gesammeltes Schweigen between the instrumental pieces.
The disc opens with Kaddish: The Art of Losing, a work for cello and piano. The cello has a rather extended opening monolog, the notes of which are largely derived from open strings and their natural harmonics. Eventually the piano joins in, at first subtly, and then more prominently so. The cello part continues senza vibrato throughout, giving the entire piece an evocatively mysterious quality. Although the work cannot be considered in any sense folk music, some of the gestures seem to me to be drawn from that world, and perhaps the rather static tonal centers (primarily on D) contribute to that feeling. Füting doesn’t eschew advanced techniques in this work; these include jeté (a technique of throwing the bow onto the string such that it quickly bounces a number of times) and sul ponticello.
After a movement from the song cycle (a one-minute unaccompanied plaintive setting with a wandering melodic line), we hear tanz.tanz for solo violin. This is a very busy work, with many interjections of pizzicato and other special effects, but the tonal center is again on D, in particular the note of the open D-string on the violin. Somewhere near the end, I heard a brief quote from the Chaconne of Bach’s unaccompanied D Minor Partita. It turns out (once I read the notes), that the entire work springs out of an analysis of that work by German musicologist Helga Thoene, but you need not have read her analysis to enjoy this intriguing piece.
With the beginning of leaving without/palimpsest for clarinet and piano, I began to see the logic of interspersing the vocal brevities in between the much longer instrumental works. These function similarly to the cheese that separates courses of a French meal for the purpose of cleansing the palate. None of the songs is remotely centered on the tonality of D as the larger pieces are. D, especially D Minor therefore seems to be an idée fixe in the music of Füting, but I don’t mean to imply that he never diverges from this tonal center. The disc would wear out its welcome very quickly were that the case. The way he constructs his pieces seems an attempt to draw an otherwise almost atonal work into a tonality centered around D. This is a fascinating principle for the construction of a piece of music, and one I’ve seldom encountered in the music of other composers.
The first four minutes of leaving are for solo piano, but the ideas utilized in this extended introduction show up in the following half of the piece that includes the clarinet. The latter part sounds as if it includes microtones: clarinetist Joshua Rubin plays far too skillfully for me to believe that he’s simply playing out of tune. The range of the work often takes the clarinetist into its altissimo register, some notes so high that they are almost in the “dog whistle” range. Well, maybe I exaggerate, but they come close to exceed the attenuated range of my hearing, at least.
This is highly imaginative and innovative music that is not difficult to listen to for those whose ears have not been attuned to more advanced musical styles. The composer has a very intimate knowledge of the technical capabilities of the instruments he employs here, such that all of these pieces sound. They are likewise played and sung with superlative skill by their respective performers. The sonics on this disc are simply spectacular, so present and lifelike are all the instruments and voice. If CDs had sounded this good upon their initial arrival back in the 1980s, much of the controversy regarding their sound would have been foregone. Recommended then, especially to the adventurous.
- David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare. October 2015
The composer Reiko Füting was a name new to me. He was born in the DDR in 1970 and studied at Dresden Conservatory, Rice University, Manhattan School of Music, and Seoul National University. He currently teaches at Manhattan School of Music where he is chair of the theory department. This disc, namesErased, from New Focus Recordings presents us with a selection of Füting's recent vocal and instrumental music.
So we have Kaddish: The art of Losing played by cellist John Popham and pianist Yegor Shevtsov, tanz.tanz played by violinist Miranda Cuckson, leaving without/palimpsest played by Joshua Rubin (clarinet) and Yegor Shevtsov (piano), names, erased (prelude) played by John Popham (cello), ist-Mensch-geworden played by Luna Kang (flutes) & Jing Yang (piano), land-haus-berg played by Yegor Shevtsov (piano), light, asleep played by Olivia de Prato (violin) and David Broome (piano), finden - suchen played by Eric Lamb (alto flute), John Popham (cello), Yegor Shevtsov (piano), and ...und ich bin Dein Spiegel performed by Nani Füting (mezzo-soprano), the Mivos Quartet (Olivia de Prato, Joshua Modney, Victor Lowrie, Mariel Roberts), interspersed with movements from ... gesammeltest Schweigen sung by Nani Füting.
Most of the pieces on the disc seem to have extra-musical or musical connections, either building on pre-existing musical structures of referring to non-musical ones. This might be inferred perhaps from the epigrammatic nature of the title, but there is nothing pastiche-like about Reiko Füting's work, he speaks with a very definite and rather striking music accent.
Kaddish: The Art of Losing for cello and piano was an 80th birthday gift to a German musicologist. The piece is based on the novel, Kaddish for a Child Unborn by Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz, though the title also refers to a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. We start with just a solo cello playing a sequence of motifs, all harmonic heavy; in a technique which crops up a lot on the disc, the cello and then cello & piano explore the opening motifs repeating and varying. The tone is serious and thoughtful, there is n evocative piano postlude which recapitulates the material.
tanz.tanz for solo violin is based on German musicologist Helga Thoene's analysis of Bach's Chaconne with its structure of chorales woven into it. Though the title also refers to the novel Dance Dance Dance by Japanese writer Haruki Marakami. There are hints of the original in the piece as the violin incessantly explores a group of motifs using a variety of playing techniques (arco, pizzicato, marcato, harmonics).
leavng without/palmisest, for clarinet and piano, based on an earlier composition for piano, leaving without, which in turn had a German folk-tune Gesgn dich Laub (Bless you leaves). The piano plays note clusters which seem based on intervals always rising or falling. The style is austere and spare despite the harmonic clusters, and when the clarinet joins it uses a number of advanced techniques and the two instruments seem to re-visit the piano's material but in a different way.
names.erased (Prelude) is based on quotations from Bach, Berg, Ligeti and Füting's own compositions, and is related to the solo cello suites by Bach, and to Robert Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning. It uses a lot of string crossing, a la Bach, but with harmonics and orther interesting effects. There is a magical sound world which is light and evocative, as if the lower part of the music had been erased.
ist - Mensch - gewordenfor flute and piano is based on fragmented quotes from Josquin, Bach, Schumann, Debussy, Boulez, Feldmann, Tristran Murail, as well as the importance of the number three (three flutes, three words, three main pitches, three sections). Using advanced flute techniques, the fragments interact in dialogue between the instruments cycling round the various motifs. The texture is transparent, and the overall feel thoughtful, though I did not really detect any of the quotations. It leads straight to the thoughtful piano solo land - haus - berg which is based on Beethoven's, Schumann's and Wolf's setting of Goethe's poem Kennst du das Land.
light, asleep, for violin and piano, was originally based on a 17th century song, though by the time the work was finished Füting feels that only the title and general atmosphere reflect the source material. It is a spare and evocative with the two instruments intersecting rather than accompanying each other.
finden - suchen, for alto flute, cello and piano, again has this sense of spareness, with the three instruments cycling round the material, and a sense of lines intersecting in space rather than creative dialogue.
The works are interspersed with movements from ...gesammeltes Schweigen, setting poems from the collection Gespannte Stille by Reiner Bonack set originally for baritone and piano and here heard in a version for unaccompanied mezzo-soprano. Each movement is quite short and the style expressive, the jagged intervals making the piece uneasy feeling.
The final work on the disc, ...und ich bin Dein Spiegel for mezzo-soprano and string quartet is based on excerpts from writings of Mechtild von Magdeburg (c1207-1282), as well as a Minnelied and a medieval Latin sequence. It opens with mezzo-soprano Nani Füting singing unaccompanied, a rather chant-like medieval melody which she then proceeds to de-construct, the quartet takes over examining the material in intense fashion before all five performers join together to create something rather intense as Füting develops the material and then suddenly ends mid-air.
The performances on the disc are exemplary, and all convey the strong impression of Reiko Füting's voice. His style of composition is one which does not take prisoners, but within its severity, intensity and logic is a sense of magic too. This is music which repays listening.
- Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill. April 2016
Reiko Füting (1970- ) is the chair of the music department at the Manhattan School of music. The present album is actually my introduction to this man and his work. It consists of a series of 15 works written between 2000 and 2014.
These works tend to emphasize brevity especially the solo vocal pieces (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10). These, originally for baritone and piano are here rendered very effectively as solo vocal pieces. They are used as a sort of punctuation in this recording of mostly brief pieces which remind this listener of Webern at times. They are in fact the movements of a collection called, “…gesammeltes Schweigen” (2004/2011, translated as Collected Silence). It is worth the trouble to listen to these in order as a complete set.
The first track here is also the longest piece on the album at 15:43. Kaddish: The Art of Losing (2014) for cello and piano is an elegiac piece inspired by several people and seems to be about both loss and remembrance. The writing in this powerful and affecting piece is of an almost symphonic quality in which both instruments are completely interdependent as they share notes and phrases. The cello is called upon to use a variety of extended techniques and the piano part is so fully integrated as to make this seem like a single instrument rather than solo with accompaniment. It has a nostalgic quality and is a stunning start to this collection of highly original compositions.
tanz, tanz (dance, dance) (2010) is a sort of Bachian exegesis of the Chaconne from the D minor violin partita. This sort of homage is not uncommon especially in the 20th/21st century and this is a fascinating example of this genre. The writing is similar to what was heard in the cello writing in the first track. This piece is challenging and highly demanding of the performer. It is a delicate though complex piece but those complexities do not make for difficult listening.
leaving without/palimpsest (2006) for clarinet and piano begins with a piano introduction after which the clarinet enters in almost pointillistic fashion as it becomes integrated to the structure initiated by the piano. Again the composer is fond of delicate sounds and a very close relationship between the musicians.
names erased (Prelude, 2012) is for solo cello and is, similar to the solo violin piece “tanz, tanz”, a Bach homage. The performer executes the composer’s signature delicate textures which utilize quotes from various sources including the composer himself. And again the complexities and extended techniques challenge the performer far more than the listener in this lovely piece.
Track 9 contains two pieces: “ist-Mensch-geworden” (was-made-man, 2014) for flute and piano and “land-haus-berg” (land-house-mountain, 2008) for piano. Both pieces involve quotation from other music in this composer’s compact and unique style. Here he includes references to Morton Feldman, J.S. Bach, Alban Berg, Gyorgy Ligeti, Schumann, Debussy, Nils Vigeland, Beat Furrer, Jo Kondo and Tristan Murail.
light, asleep (2002/2010) for violin and piano apparently began its life as a piece based on quotation but, as the liner notes say, lost those actual quotes in the process of revision.
finden-suchen (to find-to search, 2003/2011) for alto flute, cello and piano is a lyrical piece with the same interdependent writing that seems to be characteristic of this composer’s style.
…und ich bin Dein Spiegel (…and I am Your Reflection, 2000/2012) is a setting of fragments by a medieval mystic Mechthild von Magdeburg for mezzo soprano and string quartet. This is deeply introspective music.
All of Fùting’s compositions have a very personal quality with deeply embedded references. His aesthetic seems to be derived from his roots in the German Democratic Republic having been born into that unique nation state both separate from the West German state and still deeply connected to it. He is of a generation distant from the historical events that gave birth to that artificially separate German nation but, no doubt, affected by its atmosphere.
The musicians on this recording include David Broome, piano; Miranda Cuckson, violin; Nani Füting (the composer’s wife), mezzo soprano; Luna Cholong Kang, flutes; Eric Lamb, flutes; Joshua Rubin, clarinet; John Popham, cello; Yegor Shevtsov, piano; Jing Yang, piano; and the Mivos Quartet. All are dedicated and thoughtful performances executed effortlessly.
The recording is the composer’s production engineered by Ryan Streber. This is a very original set of compositions which benefit from multiple hearings. - New Music Buff, 9.2016
The name Reiko Füting will awaken memories of some concertgoers in Dresden - the composer born in Königs Wusterhausen in 1970, enjoyed his training in the 90s at the Dresden Musikhochschule and continued very soon in the USA, where he still lives today and at the Renowned Manhattan School of Music in New York, holds a professorship for theory and composition. Musically, however, he has always left traces in Dresden and composes new works for local ensembles and choirs, most recently, for example, "höhen - stufen", performed by the Singakademie in 2014.
Now under the name "Names erased" a CD with Solowerken, chamber music and vocal works with the label New Focus Recordings has appeared. Outstanding in their concentration are the interpretations of the accomplished instrumentalists, almost all of New York's famous New Music ensembles. If Füting himself writes about his intention to write "experiences of form - time - space" in composing, this CD is particularly suited to dealing with these topics, while at the same time keeping Füting as very sound, but also form - oriented Sound creators.
Many of the pieces, which are written in smaller time forms and are interspersed on the CD with short solo vocal movements, are aroused by a search. There, tones and harmonies are carefully explored, for example, in the name "names erased" for cello solo, exploring their expressive potential before going on a journey to the next sound or expressive space. Such an approach creates a lot of peace, and so few action-packed passages of the music (for instance in "tanz.tanz" for violin solo) are almost surprising, but they are just as cautiously placed in context. When in the last part of the CD "... and I am your mirror", Füting deals with the texts and thoughts of the 13th-century magician of Magdeburg, the time no longer exists or is relevant: the words lie in the flow of music. -- mehrlicht.kuek.de, 12.23.2016 (translated from original German)