The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Rihm II | Schubert
No standing still. Instead, continuous transformation. The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst opens with two compositions by Wolfgang Rihm. His historical reminiscences in “Verwandlung 2” and “Verwandlung 3” sound both familiar and distorted at the same time, repeatedly leading Rihm back to Franz Schubert whose “Great” C major Symphony rounds off the concert.
The title describes it perfectly. Because in Wolfgang Rihm’s various orchestral pieces under the name “Verwandlung” (Transformation), the musical process does undergo a constant metamorphosis – one of attention-grabbing mimicry. Rihm’s music takes its starting point from the Ländler sound of Gustav Mahler (“Verwandlung 2”) and from the thrilling harps and glittering vibraphone opera sound of Franz Schreker (“Verwandlung 3”). However, the historical viewpoints soon change and the more familiar the basic musical texture may seem in advance, the more irritating the transformations seem: “Known elements repeatedly appear under my guise,” says Rihm, “both familiar and distorted at the same time; from the unity of the material, an immense multiplicity of possible transformations is gained.” The confrontation with tradition has always played a central role in Wolfgang Rihm’s oeuvre, where – in addition to Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler – he has also made numerous direct references to the music of Franz Schubert. In Thomas Rübenacker’s grotesque film about the artist from 1978, “Aber unvollendet” The young Rihm even acts the role of Schubert. So it is only fitting that Franz Welser-Möst, who is back in Berlin for the first time in eight years with the Cleveland Orchestra, has complemented Rihm’s “Verwandlung 2” and “Verwandlung 3” by programming Schubert’s “Great” C major symphony – a work that skilfully negotiates between lyrical melodies and symphonic drama, with which Schubert posthumously became the originator of the Romantic symphony after Beethoven.