Album review: Wolfgang Rihm, Symphonie “Nähe Fern” (Harmonia Mundi)


Wolfgang Rihm is intrigued by the way that artworks often occur as responses to other artworks – in the case of Nähe Fern, the four symphonies of Brahms, to which the constituent parts were conceived as allusive homages, or pendants to be performed alongside the individual symphonies.

The title translates as “distant proximity”, which conveys something of the relationship: rather than straight quotations, these pieces feature distant echoes of harmonic and motific themes. It's a strange, but not unsatisfying work: in the second piece, the furtive manner suggests an animal tentatively considering a new beast in its habitat, while the final piece involves a more deliberate distancing, by having the trumpets departing to play the closing section offstage.

Download: Nähe Fern 2; Nähe Fern 3; Nähe Fern 4