Reiko Füting's second release on New Focus documents his unique approach to exploring the relationship between temporality and material in his composition. In this collection of works for ensemble and voice, Füting's frequent use of quotation from older repertoire places his music in a multidimensional dialogue between the contemporary listener and the era from which the references are drawn. "Distant Song" features performances by AuditivVokal Dresden, Art d'Echo, loadbang, Byrne:Kozar:Duo, Oerknal, and Damask.
|01||“als ein licht”/extensio|
“als ein licht”/extensio
|AuditivVokal Dresden, Art d'Echo, Olaf Katzer, conductor||22:37|
|02||“in allem frieden”, wie der Tag – wie das Licht|
“in allem frieden”, wie der Tag – wie das Licht
|AuditivVokal Dresden, Art d'Echo, Olaf Katzer, conductor||15:08|
|03||eternal return (Passacaglia)|
eternal return (Passacaglia)
|04||mo(nu)ment for C|
mo(nu)ment for C
|05||Weg, Lied der Schwäne|
Weg, Lied der Schwäne
|Oerknal, Gregory Charette, conductor||12:31|
|06||versinkend, versingend, verklingend: fernes Lied|
versinkend, versingend, verklingend: fernes Lied
|Damask, Oerknal, Gregory Charette, conductor||9:56|
Composer Reiko Füting’s music engages with temporality and memory on a multi-dimensional level. By using musical quotation and balancing current instrumental techniques with early music stylistic traits, Füting invites the listener to reflect on compositional tradition through a contemporary prism. Through his innovative approach to structure, internal repetition, and additive motivic content, Füting shapes the listener’s perception of musical time. He writes in the liner notes that, “The quotations are treated to processes of assimilation, integration, disintegration, and segregation while moving freely between clear borders and gradual transitions. Among my interests in this structural approach was to construct a musical forum to reflect upon contemporary artistic, cultural, social, and political phenomena.” “Distant Song”, Füting’s second release on New Focus, features works for voices and instruments performed by excellent established young ensembles in both the United States and Europe. The compositions included are emblematic of Füting’s deeply humanistic approach to creative activity and a sensitivity to current political issues.Read More
The opening two works on “Distant Song,” are based on pieces written by Baroque composer Heinrich Schütz during the Thirty Years’ War in which he called for peace. Füting’s choice to score the works for a stylistically hybrid instrumentation of percussion quartet, gamba consort, positiv organ, and vocal ensemble facilitates the duality between new techniques and older stylistic allusions. In both cases, the vocal ensemble acts as the temporal bridge between the percussion and the gamba quintet — quotations from Schütz’s choral music and lush layering of voices alternate with consonants that get stuck like a skipping record, glissandi that swoop and destabilize the texture, and dynamic swells.
eternal return (Passacaglia) was written for soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andrew Kozar, and is reflective of Füting’s affinity for repetition within motivic development. Little machines of rhythmic and timbral activity become familiar to the ear before they are added to or subtracted from, as threads of memory accumulate or disintegrate in the mind before being replaced by new thoughts. A Nietzsche quote lamenting human nature's penchant for repeating historical mistakes serves as the text.
mo(nu)ment for C, for the ensemble loadbang, opens with sounds in the winds that mimic the baritone voice. The insistent pulsation eventually expands into short bursts of repeated notes as the text alternates between “Je suis”, “I am,” and “Ich bin”, an assertion of the autonomy of the individual in response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015.
Weg, Lied der Schwäne (Journey, Song of the Swans) was written for the Dutch ensemble Oerknal, and returns to the early/contemporary music dichotomy of the opening two pieces, with material based on a Jakob Arcadelt madrigal. The piece has a quasi-spectral sensibility of articulating overtones over a harmonically static bass note. Towards the end of the piece, we hear the madrigal in fragments percolating through the ensemble.
The final work, versinkend, versingend, verklingend: fernes Lied (sinking, singing, sounding: distant song), brings the recording full circle, scored again for ensemble with voices, this time Oerknal with Netherlands based vocal ensemble Damask. Füting’s inspiration here is the famous Debussy piano prelude “La cathédrale engloutie” -- additionally he includes a quote from a 15th century German folk song in the coda. Throughout this inward looking recording, Reiko Füting patiently weaves a beguiling tapestry of textures across a multi-layered structure, expanding the listener’s perception of time and engaging with memory and the musical past in an era of change, uncertainty, and transition.
– D. Lippel
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.http://www.reikofueting.de
Founded in 2007 by its director Olaf Katzer, AuditivVokal Dresden is a contemporary vocal ensemble which seeks to establish new performance practices through "everything-except-ordinary" concerts. Programming is based on the ensemble's interest in extended vocal techniques as well as in links to science, politics, and the arts. Besides contemporary compositions, AuditivVokal Dresden also interprets early music. The ensemble's socio-cultural and educational mission has led to initiatives such as the Neue Dresdner Vokalschule, which - in cooperation with the State of Saxony and the Dresden University Library (SLUB) - establishes close collaborations with contemporary creative artists. Their artistic activities cover an enormous range of events, ranging from a cappella concerts to concerts with ensembles and orchestras, such as Dresdner Sinfoniker, Ensemble Art d'Echo, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, and the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble Rome.http://www.auditivvokal.de/en/
The ensemble Art d'Echo was founded in 2010 by viola da gamba player Juliane Laake. It consists of selected musicians, who are specialists in their own respective fields and who contribute to the work of the ensemble with their unique expertise. Music for solo viola da gamba is paired with other compositions through diverse concert programs. Various prize-winning CD recordings (including premiere recordings), radio broadcasts, as well as numerous performances document the work of this young ensemble.http://www.julianelaake.de/
Born in 1980 in the Rhineland (Germany), Olaf Katzer studied music and psychology in Munich, Weimar, and Dresden. In transdisciplinary exchanges with singers, instrumentalists, dancers, composers, paint-ers, directors, and scientists, Katzer develops ensemble art for the 21st century through unconventional program designs. Numerous premiere performances, radio recordings, and guest appearances at festivals in almost all European countries, as well as in Taiwan, China, the USA, and South America document Katzer's commitment to contemporary vocal music. In addition, Katzer has conducted ensembles such as the RIAS Kammerchor, the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, the MDR Rundfunkchor, and the Dresdner Kammerchor. He has served as a lecturer in choral conducting at the Hochschule fur Musik Dresden since 2011, and as an interim a professor of choral conducting since 2015. More info at olafkatzer.comhttps://www.olafkatzer.com/
Created by soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andrew Kozar, the New York City-based Byrne:Kozar:Duo presents historically informed performances of Baroque music for soprano and natural trumpet, and commissions new works for soprano and modern trumpet. They create "an arresting symbiosis in their melding of voice and trumpet timbres" (Textura) with the "trumpet and voice [seeming] to take on one another's qualities" (Bandcamp Daily). As individuals, Byrne is acclaimed as a "celebrated singer" (Broadway World) and "a rising star" (Arts Westchester), while Kozar is acclaimed as a "star soloist" (TimeOutNY) and as "polished and dynamic, with very impressive playing" (Baltimore Sun). Recent appearances include performances at the Boston Early Music Festival, Divergent Studio at the Longy School of Music, and New Music Miami.https://www.byrnekozarduo.com/
New York City-based new music chamber group loadbang is building a new kind of music for mixed ensemble of trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice. Since their founding in 2008, they have been praised as ‘cultivated’ by The New Yorker, ‘an extra-cool new music group’ and ‘exhilarating’ by the Baltimore Sun, ‘inventive’ by the New York Times and called a 'formidable new-music force' by TimeOutNY. Their unique lung-powered instrumentation has provoked diverse responses from composers, resulting in a repertoire comprising an inclusive picture of composition today. In New York City, they have been recently presented by and performed at Miller Theater, Symphony Space, MATA and the Avant Music Festival; on American tours at Da Camera of Houston, Rothko Chapel, and the Festival of New American Music at Sacramento State University; and internationally at Ostrava Days (Czech Republic), China-ASEAN Music Week (China) and Shanghai Symphony Hall (China).
loadbang has premiered more than 250 works, written by members of the ensemble, emerging artists, and today's leading composers. Their repertoire includes works by Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Charles Wuorinen; Rome Prize winners Andy Akiho and Paula Matthusen; and Guggenheim Fellow Alex Mincek. Not content to dwell solely in the realm of notated music, loadbang is known for its searing and unpredictable improvisations, exploring the edges of instrumental and vocal timbre and technique, and blurring the line between composed and extemporaneous music. To this end, they have embarked on a project to record improvisations and improvised works written by members of the ensemble. These recordings are designed, fabricated, and released in hand-made limited editions. loadbang can also be heard on a 2012 release of the music by John Cage on Avant Media Records, a 2013 release of the music of loadbang member Andy Kozar titled 'On the end...' on ANALOG Arts Records which was called ‘virtuosic’ by The New Yorker, a 2014 release on ANALOG Arts Records titled Monodramas, a 2015 release on New Focus Recordings titled LUNGPOWERED which was called ‘new, confident, and weird’ by I Care If You Listen and 'an album of quietly complex emotions' by The New Yorker, and a 2017 Bridge Records release titled Charles Wuorinen, Vol. 3, featuring the music of Charles Wuorinen.
loadbang is dedicated to education and cultivation of an enthusiasm for new music. They have worked with students ranging from elementary schoolers in the New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers program and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids Program to college aged student composers at institutions including Columbia University, Cornell University, Manhattan School of Music, New York University, Peabody Conservatory, Princeton University, University of Buffalo, and Yale University. They are in residence at the Charlotte New Music Festival, the Longy School of Music's summer program Divergent Studio, and all four members are on the instrumental and chamber music faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston.http://www.loadbang.com
Oerknal is an ensemble of international musicians based in the Netherlands united by a passion for new creative experiences and the belief that music should be presented in a direct, visceral manner. Oerknal has performed at various festivals in the Netherlands including Gaudeamus Music Week (Utrecht), SoundsofMusic (Groningen) and Korzo Theater (Den Haag), in addition to international residencies at festivals such as the Delian Academy for New Music (Greece) and DAM Festival (Kosovo). Since its founding in 2013, Oerknal has commissioned a wide range of composers and engaged in cross-disciplinary collaborations aimed at discovering unique artistic overlaps and exploring different models of concert presentation. Its debut album, Narrow Numerous, will be released in November 2018 on the 7 Mountain Records label. More info at oerknal.orghttps://www.oerknal.org/
Gregory Charette (b. 1987 in Los Angeles) is a conductor and curator deeply committed to the performance and promotion of new music. He earned his B.M. in composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Lewis Nielson. Charette moved to the Netherlands to study orchestral conducting at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and earned his M.M. from the Dutch National Masters in Orchestral Conducting. He studied with Pierre Boulez at the 2011 Lucerne Festival and has served as conductor in the Holland Festival's John Cage Centennial as well as at the Aldeburgh Festival's Emerging Composers Program, where he worked closely with Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews. He has worked with numerous orchestras and ensembles, and currently resides in The Hague.https://www.gregorycharette.com/
Damask, a vocal quartet based in the Netherlands, unites musicians of four nationalities: American soprano Katharine Damn, French mezzo-soprano Marine Fribourg, English tenor Guy Cutting, and Canadian baritone Drew Santini. Since 2014, Damask has been giving voice to the stunning but neglected repertoire for vocal quartet - from piano-accompanied chamber works of the 19th century to music of the 20th and 21st centuries, both unaccompanied and with various instruments. Equally important to Damask's mission is the broadening and enrichment of the repertoire through regular commissions of new works. Damask has been featured in festivals and series in the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United States, and England. 2018 marked Damask's first commercial release: a disc of quartets of Brahms, Herzogenberg, and Jenner, on Dutch label 7 Mountain Records.https://damaskquartet.com/
A faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, Reiko Füting’s distance song features performers who are MSM alumni as well as European ensembles. An amalgam of various styles and materials notwithstanding, Füting displays a strong hand and clear-eyed perspective throughout.
After an introduction of thunderous drum thwacks, AuditiVokal Dresden and Art D’Echo perform “als ein licht”/extensio and “in allem Fremden” – wie der Tag – wie das Licht with marvelous close-tuned harmonies and suspense-filled pacing. Gradually the percussion is reintroduced at varying intervals to provide a foil for the singers.
loadbang and the Byrne:Kozar Duo, the aforementioned MSM contingent, perform Mo(nu)ment and Eternal Return (Passacaglia), two pieces featuring microtones and extended techniques alongside Füting’s penchant for off-kilter repetition. The Dutch ensemble Oerknal performs Weg, Lied der Schwänd, in which both spectralism and quotation (of a madrigal by Arcadelt) are explored: yet two more facets of the composer’s palette. Versinkend, versingnend, verklingend adds the vocal group Damask to Oerknal for a piece that combines still more quotations, ranging from Debussy’s piano music to a Fifteenth century German folksong.
-Christian Carey, 12.24.18, Sequenza21
What’s particularly impressive about distantSong, six compositions by Reiko Füting, is that so many references converge in music that still has a strong sense of itself.
Füting, who was born in 1970 and is on faculty at Manhattan School of Music, here explores many themes: timbre, quotation, memory. The title track — sinking, singing, sounding: distant song, for vocal quartet and ensemble — has a slow and multilayered ceremonialism that reminds me of Anna Thorvaldsdottir. In another work, Füting’s combination of Baroque period instruments with 21st-century techniques cleverly mirrors the opposing choirs in the Heinrich Schütz piece on which it’s based.
This music also features text by Hannah Arendt and others, in whisperings that pan in and out of earshot. Other tracks reference Debussy and the Renaissance composer Jacques Arcadelt. There’s a lot of “why” behind each piece, and the listening experience is rarely light.
For me, the most immediate work is mo(nu)ment for C, for the ensemble loadbang (baritone, trumpet, trombone, and bass clarinet). Terse oscillating motifs create a vibrant ostinato for fragments, in English, German, and French, that reference the rallying cry for freedom of the press after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. But there’s no Charlie here — only endless, playfully self-conscious iterations of “I am.”
At the ends of several pieces, source material — or something like it — finally reveals itself. Are these Baroque-sounding polyphonies a culmination, a return? Füting’s work doesn’t suggest a single reading.
Take the crooning, capricious eternal return (Passacaglia). The unexpected duo of soprano (Corrine Byrne) and trumpet (Andrew Kozar) play in taunting heterophony, one voice just slightly behind the other. The text, from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, can read as demoralizing: All human actions are destined only to repeat, ad infinitum. But the music is cheerful in its resignation.
-Rebecca Wishnia, 1.8.19, San Francisco Classical Voice
An egghead deluxe set of contemporary classical featuring commissioned works by Futing and played by various ensembles. Often taking minimalism to extremes, this set is not for the contemporary classical tourist or snarkers who like to say "my kid could do that". This is a journey into art with a capital A as he explores the effect of memory in music.
-Midwest Record, 12.11.18
Combining elements of early music with contemporary techniques in a postmodern approach to appropriation and assimilation, Reiko Füting has created works that defy easy categorization, yet intrigue with their inventiveness and spontaneity. His 2018 release on New Focus Recordings, Distant Song, demonstrates an abiding interest in the music of the past, particularly the music of Heinrich Schütz, yet shows an equal concern with the diversity and challenges of music in the present. Employing vocal ensembles, a percussion quartet, a viol da gamba quintet, and a duo of soprano and trumpet, Füting conveys unsettling, fragmented soundscapes that comment on societal and political issues through verbal references, startling stylistic juxtapositions, and extended techniques, and the subjects of the program range from appeals for peace to protests against political violence. The roster of artists includes the American Byrne-Kozar Duo (soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andy Kozar), the German vocal ensemble AuditivVokal Dresden with the gamba consort Art d'Echo, the American chamber group Loadbang, and the Dutch percussionists Oerknal with the vocal ensemble Damask, who are all fluent in Füting's hybrid language and skilled to handle his demanding writing. While a description of this album may suggest a disjointed welter of sounds, there are many spare textures and silences in Füting's music that give it room to breathe and make the music somewhat more accessible, despite its occasionally confrontational content. Recommended for adventurous listeners.
-Blair Sanderson, 1.11.19, AllMusic
At the end of last year, New Focus Recordings released its second album of works by German composer Reiko Füting. The title of the album is distant song, which refers to the composer’s technique of drawing upon sources from the past and “transplanting” them in the “soil” of his own grammatical and rhetorical techniques. In our “brave new world” of distribution, Amazon.com is currently making the album available only for digital download; but those who prefer the physical medium can purchase the CD through Naxos Direct.
Füting tends to draw upon pre-Baroque composers for much of his source material. The first two compositions on distant song, “‘als ein licht’/extensio” (as a light) and “‘in allem frieden’” (in all peace), appropriate from the choral music of Heinrich Schütz; and the source of “Weg, Lied der Schwäne” (journey, song of the swans) is a madrigal by Jacques Arcadelt. On the other hand, the final selection, “versinkend, versingend, verklingend: fernes Lied” (sinking, singing, sounding: distant song), from which the album takes its title, draws upon both a fifteenth-century German folk song and Claude Debussy’s piano prelude, “La cathédrale engloutie.”
Performing resources are similarly diverse. The vocal selections involve both solo singing and part songs. Instrumental resources are kept on a chamber scale but with a tendency to include diverse passages for percussion. On the other hand the two pieces that appropriate Schütz draw upon the resources of the Art d’Echo consort of four viol players joined by Klaus Eichhorn on positive organ. Both of those pieces involves settings of texts by the poet Kathleen Furthmann.
The accompanying booklet provides Furthmann’s poems. One quickly discovers that the very layout of her words is a significant element of her capacity for poetic expression. This is particularly the case in “‘in allem frieden,” where the layout encourages an indeterminate approach to reading that can be either horizontal or vertical. In a similar manner Füting’s instrumental music tends to be organized as a constellation of moments, allowing for an interplay of simultaneities and sequences embedded within the flow of “real time.”
From a rhetorical point of view, one might be inclined to approach the music of Arvo Pärt as an “orienting point of reference.” However, Füting’s overall strategy tends to reflect some of the approaches to indeterminacy that one can find in the music of John Cage. In other words, no matter how many sources may provide context for Füting’s music, each of his compositions definitely speaks to the listener in is own voice, as unique in its expressiveness as it is in its syntactic foundations.
-Stephen Smoliar, 1.16.19, The Rehearsal Studio
Composer Reiko Füting created these works as an exploration of memory, shot through the lens of musical quotation. Some works are built from fragments of early music pieces, or, in the case of versinkend, versingend, verklingend: fernes Lied, a Debussy piano prelude. Despite such diverse materials, the music never feels like pastiche. The album opens with ‘als ein licht’/extensio, where the words of contemporary poet Kathleen Furthmann are gorgeously shaped by the haunting early music singing of AuditivVokal Dresden. It’s set to a melody based on a motet by 17th century composer Heinrich Schütz, and situated within passages of austere percussion, as well as alternately elliptical and swelling figures from Art d’Echo, a viola da gamba quartet. Eternal return (Passacaglia) embraces far more contemporary language. The lines sung by soprano Corrine Byrne toggle between fluid and jagged, lyric and wordless, as she runs through sonic permutations of Nietzsche quotes. Trumpeter Andrew Kozar accompanies her with unpitched snorts, upper register cries, and vocalic extended techniques. “I am,” the quotation in mo(nu)ment for C, sung by loadbang baritone Jeffrey Gavett in English, French, and German, responds to the 2015 attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, while the lovely polyphony of Kozar’s trumpet, William Lang’s trombone, and Carlos Cordeiro’s bass clarinet sounds both ancient and modern.
-Peter Margasak, 2.28.19, Bandcamp Daily
With the vocal and instrumental compositions featured on this recording, Reiko Füting seeks to “explore the psychological nature of memory, as it is projected onto the compositional device of musical quotation. By realizing this device in the entire musical spectrum of assimilation, integration, disintegration, and segregation, while moving freely between clear borders and gradual transitions, quotation and memory may function as a means to reflect upon contemporary artists, cultural, social, and political phenomena.” That’s a pretty full conceptual agenda, and as is always the case with such music, that agenda begs a fundamental question: is the music itself (as opposed to its philosophical/conceptual foundation) worth your attention? The answer in this case is yes. Several of these works constitute contemporary responses to pieces by baroque composer Heinrich Schütz, while another is based on the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and another is a piece for vocal quartet and instrumental ensemble that takes a Debussy piano prelude as its source material. All of this music is challenging and academic; most of it is also both interesting and compelling.
-Rick Anderson, 3.4.19, CD HotList
Music for percussion, for small vocal ensemble, for the two together, for chamber groups with voice, ever shifting, Distant Song gives us Reiko Füting at length and in focus. The composer in the liner states that this series of works express his "continuing compositional interest in time and space." How that works out is complicated. Aural memory is piqued or activated by musical quotations in various ways, bringing in, breaking apart, isolating. We are called upon to experience borders and slow change. It is the sort of thing where we do not say to ourselves, "hey, that's the first bar of Beethoven's Fifth!" It is a great deal more subtle than that. In fact I listened a number of times without reading the liners and failed to notice the constructive process, except that Early Music permeates things at times as an underlying force. So it in a way is an "inside baseball" kind of thing. You enjoy the game if you know something others might not, but you enjoy the game too if you do not catch every nuance.
So the opening work 'als ein licht'/extensio relies as text on a poem by Kathleen Furthmann and a Heinrich Schutz motet as the "basis" for the work. The vocal ensemble has the lion's share of recognizable work to do in making us feel the "early" basis of the music. The viola da gamba quintet, percussion quartet and positive organ stretch our sensibilities. Notably at times the percussion quartet sounds with dramatic outbursts not unlike a taiko drumming ensemble minus the periodicity. The album is dedicated to musicologist Wolfram Steude (1931-2006), who suggested to Füting when he was his student years ago that he write a work in response to Schutz. What matters to our ears is that the Modernist outlook prevails at the same time as the Schutzian zeitgeist is, once you know, very much present.
The program moves through another five works, in allem frieden with another poem by Furthmann and the same vocal and instrumental forces, again with a Schutz work as the underpinning for the musical proceedings. Wie der Tag - wie das Licht acts as an epilogue with parts for soprano and bass gamba.
The works that follow on the heels of the compositions described above each feature a different configuration--soprano and trumpet; baritone, trumpet, trombone and bass clarinet; chamber ensemble; and chamber ensemble and vocal quartet, respectively.
All have specific aims or structural parameters, quotational/appropriative dimensions that set them into a special place. If you grab this music you can follow along in the liners of course. It is not necessary to map it all out here. There are cyclic-repetitive moments in the works that spell us from the linear Modernisms and linear earlier music quotations we experience throughout. The past mediates the present at times, the present mediates the past. And that perhaps is the point of memory, time and space as motoring factors in the musical universe(s) we occupy daily? Füting wakes us up in good ways to the experiential possibilities while providing us with a musical art program we can appreciate and love.
Suffice to say that the music is distinctive, individual, inventive and very imaginative. That in the end is the best reason to hear the album. That Reiko Füting creates his works in original ways is a fact. To understand his music it is very much a key to hear how the results are constructed, of course. That the results are striking aurally is confirmation that he is on the right path. Very recommended.
-Grego Applegate Edwards, 3.5.19, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review