Helmut Lachenmann: Das Mädchen mit Schwefelhölzern - Tokyo-Fassung 2000

SWR Sinfonieorchester, Sylvain Cambreling

2-CD23,90 out of print

Concertante recording of Helmut Lachenmann’s groundbreaking opera, and the first to feature the revised version, the so-called “Tokyo-Fassung” which the composer now regards as definitive. The opera, while loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale is not a work that admits of a single “meaning”, its plotline is multiple and diffuse, but an undercurrent of social criticism is implied as Lachenmann views the pauper (The Little Match Girl), the terrorist (Gudrun Ensslin)and the visionary artist (Da Vinci) all as outsiders, figures on the fringes of society, driven to the margins by circumstances and by society’s coldness, and, in consequence, playing with fire in their responses. Coldness, figuratively and literally, is one of the opera’s subjects. Extreme cold and burning desire, as attitudes and conditions, counterpoint each other in the music. The action evolves through the suggestibility of the sounds which Lachenmann deploys like no one else and with a poetry all his own. “Not only is ‘The Little Match Girl’ by far the biggest work of one of Europe’s most esteemed composers, but it magnifies the qualities of strangeness and intensity, of huge but frustrated power, that have given him his reputation” – Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

Featured Artists Recorded

July 2002, Konzerthaus Freiburg

  • CD 1
  • Teil I: Auf der Strasse
    (Gudrun Ensslin, Hans Christian Andersen, Leonardo da Vinci, Helmut Lachenmann)
  • 1Choralvorspiel "Oh, du fröhliche"07:02
  • 2"In dieser Kälte"01:45
  • 3"Frier-Arie" (1. Teil)04:04
  • 4Trio und Reprise ("Frier-Arie", 2. Teil)03:28
  • 5Scherzo I ("Königin der Nacht")02:29
  • 6Scherzo II ("Schnalz-Arie" - "Stille Nacht")03:06
  • 7"Zwei Wagen"00:48
  • 8"Die Jagd"03:55
  • 9"Schneeflocken"04:46
  • 10"Aus allen Fenstern"09:52
  • Teil II: An der Hauswand
    (Gudrun Ensslin, Hans Christian Andersen, Leonardo da Vinci, Helmut Lachenmann)
  • 11Hauswand 1 ("In einem Winkel")08:34
  • 12Ritsch 1 ("Ofen")04:19
  • 13Hauswand 2 ("Da erlosch")02:21
  • 14Hauswand 3 ("Litanei")03:54
  • 15"Schreibt auf unsere Haut"02:01
  • 16Ritsch 300:35
  • CD 2
  • 1Ritsch 300:18
  • 2Kaufladen02:17
  • 3"Die Weihnachtslieder stiegen höher"01:34
  • 4Abendsegen ("Wenn ein Stern fällt")04:40
  • 5"...zwei Gefühle...", Musik mit Leonardo11:26
  • 6Hauswand 402:48
  • 7Ritsch 401:07
  • 8Die Großmutter01:23
  • 9"Nimm mich mit"02:54
  • 10Himmelfahrt ("In Glanz und Freude")02:41
  • 11Shô ("Sie waren bei Gott")12:18
  • 12Epilog ("Aber in der kalten Morgenstunde")05:42
BBC Music Magazine, Top of the month
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Empfehlung
Stereoplay, Klangtipp
Stereo, CD des Monats
 
Lachenmann’s opera "The Little Match Girl" (2001) is an unapologetically modernist, difficult but hypnotic take on Andersen’s tale. But that’s only its starting point. Lachenmann also weaves in episodes using words by the Baader-Meinhof terrorist Gudrun Ensslin and from Leonardo da Vinci’s treatise The Desire for Knowledge. The poor little girl, the terrorist, the visionary artist – all cast into the cold by society, all drawn inescapably to self-destruction. Lachenmann’s music is onomatopoeic: his evocations of coldness, using electronics as well as live orchestra, are an intense exploration of the isolated psyche that constantly fascinates. Cambreling conducts with icy precision.
Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times
 
This new recording of Lachenmann’s opera, in the revised, slightly cut version that the composer prefers, demonstrates the power of confusing music and storytelling that operates on the disturbing edges of consciousness.
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
 
Helmut Lachenmann nennt sein 1997 uraufgeführtes Opernprojekt “Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern“ im Untertitel „Musik mit Bildern“, auch um deutlich zu machen, dass es sich nicht um eine Oper im traditionellen Sinn handelt. Innerhalb weniger Jahre trat dieses Werk seinen Siegeszug um die Welt an... Nun liegt eine zweite Einspielung vor, die sich in einigen Punkten von der Ersteinspielung unterscheidet. Das betrifft vor allem die „...zwei Gefühle...“ überschriebene „Musik mit Leonardo“ im letzten Teil. ... Die Sprache ist deutlicher zu verstehen, die Konzentration auf den „nackten“Text gleicht einem musikalischen Innehalten. Die ursprüngliche komplexe Kontrastepisode mutiert zu einem Zustand erregter Ruhe, einer intensiven Meditation.
Nicht nur dieser Abschnitt, sondern die gesamte Produktion ist klanglich und interpretatorisch von einer solchen Klarheit und Sensibilität, wie man das nur selten findet, wie es jedoch gerade bei diesem ungewöhnlichen Werk unerlässlich scheint.
Martin Demmler, Fono Forum
 
Seit Jahren durchwandert der radikale Musikdenker Helmut Lachenmann neue Klanglandschaften und entlockt dem großen Orchesterapparat ein Spektrum an Geräuschen und Klängen in den subtilsten Schattierungen. Als Volltreffer gilt die 1997 in Hamburg uraufgeführte Oper „Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern“. ... In dieser „Tokyo-Fassung 2000“ modifiziert Lachenmann den „Leonardo-Teil“. Der führt aus der winterlich mitternächtliche Kälte via Sternschnuppe in eine mediterrane unwirtliche Landschaft Süditaliens. Aus der Notwendigkeit, das Sprachmaterial aufführungspraktisch an die japanischen Verhältnisse anzupassen, fügt Lachenmann fünf Klangfermaten über den gesprochenen Text ein, die das dramaturgische wie musikalische Geschehen bereichern sollen. In der Tat öffnet sich so eine neue Ebene des Innehaltens und Durchatmens. Faszinierend die Sogwirkung, mit der Sylvain Cambreling mit dem Instrumental- und Vokal-Apparat des SWR den Hörer in die hochkomplexe Klangwelt hineinzieht.
Egon Bezold, Stereo
 
Die Interpretation durch Cambreling ist höchst durchsichtig und angespannt – großartig!
Reinhard Schulz, Neue Musikzeitung
 
 
 
“Not only is ‘The Little Match Girl’ by far the biggest work of one of Europe’s most esteemed composers, but it magnifies the qualities of strangeness and intensity, of huge but frustrated power, that have given him his reputation” – Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

Helmut Lachenmann’s “Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern” defies almost all operatic conventions and counts nonetheless (or therefore) as one of the great achievements of contemporary opera – even if the composer himself prefers the term ‘music with images’.
“If opera is to remain a living art form”, wrote Larry Lash in Andante, “it must grow beyond the boundaries of what one commonly thinks of as ‘opera’. Lachenmann gave this particular envelope a major push with ‘Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern’ … There is only the barest framework of narrative… ‘Das Mädchen’ challenges our preconceptions of what constitutes opera.”
Relentless in its determination to reveal new colours to the listener, “Das Mädchen” is a great sustained work of invention that has an impact on many levels. As the New York Times, in citing Lachenmann as the most influential European composer, wrote: “The best of his work takes you by the hand, and will not let go until it has shown you things you could not have suspected.”

In the case of the opera, the unsuspected includes not only the sonic poetry of Lachenmann’s instrumental resources, but a landscape of text, from sources that at first appear disparate, in which the music is set.

Three textual components are interwoven. The first is Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of the Little Match Girl who freezes to death on New Year’s Eve. Lachenmann: “It’s the perfect fairytale, such a sad and serene story – this little girl, just trying to live, who sees a vision in the light of her matches and then dies. It’s much more provocative than a story that starts out ‘to make a better world.’” The second text element is comprised of writings by Gudrun Ensslin, a childhood acquaintance of Lachenmann’s who grew up to be a Red Army Faction terrorist and died in prison at the age of 37 (opinions still differ on whether she was murdered or took her own life). The third text component is from Leonard Da Vinci’s treatise “The Desire for Knowledge”.

The opera is not a work that admits of a single “meaning”, its plotline is multiple and diffuse, but an undercurrent of social criticism is implied as Lachenmann views the pauper, the terrorist and the visionary artist all as outsiders, figures on the fringes of society, variously driven to the margins by circumstances and by society’s coldness, there to play with fire in highly individual ways. Coldness, figuratively and literally, is one of the opera’s conceptual themes. Burning desire, and extreme cold, as attitudes and conditions, counterpoint each other in the music. The action evolves through the suggestibility of the sounds which Lachenmann deploys like no one else.

Helmut Lachenmann: “My opera focuses on Andersen’s little girl. But the archetype of being made an outsider that merges with this fairytale figure, who by helping herself destroys herself, includes for me the ‘criminal, mad suicide’ evoked in Gudrun Ensslin’s letters. She was perhaps referring to herself in a visionary way. In a totally different light there is also the one driven by burning desire, referred to in another text, by Leonardo da Vinci, when he speaks of being fearful and desirous before the dark cave, wondering what might be inside. For me the Leonardo text and the Ensslin text complement each other and at the same time preserve the Andersen fairy tale from being merely harmless and noncommittal poetry.”

The ECM concertante recording of the opera is considered by Lachenmann to be authoritative. It features the so-called “Tokyo version” of the work, which tightened the section called “‘…zwei Gefühle…’, Musik mit Leonardo”, originally in response to a Japanese staging. Helmut Lachenmann: “I consider my surgical intervention – as documented on this CD – beneficial to the overall comprehensibility of the work and, dialectically speaking, to its complexity.” Recorded under studio conditions in Freiburg, the immense sensitivity with which Lachenmann works with his materials can be fully grasped in this recording.

“Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern” received its first performance in Hamburg in January 1997. This was followed by performances in Tokyo, Stuttgart, Paris, Salzburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna. In September 2004, the work returns to Stuttgart, the city of Lachenmann’s birth, for further performances.