June 10, 2017

Chromatic elevator music

The shadow of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto looms large over Richard Dünser's 1993 work in the same genre, as do (to a lesser extent) the shadows of Schoenberg (Five Orchestral Pieces Op.16), Webern (Im Sommerwind), and possibly even Bernard Hermann (the score for Vertigo).  This, in itself, would not be an aesthetic liability had Dünser filtered his multitude of influences and references into a work stamped with a distinct and interesting musical personality.  (After all,  Chopin's two piano concertos are no less stylistically plagiaristic of the earlier concertos by Hummel and Kalkbrenner.)  Alas, Dünser's concerto offers little more than 24 minutes of continuous highly chromatic (and vaguely minor key) 'rhapsodic musings', supported by orchestral writing as bland and impersonal as if lifted from a typical 'old-school' film score. But then what else could one expect from a composer whose personal statement announces to the world that his music (not him!) "wants ... to achieve resonance and social relevance" and is the result of "compositional engineering"?  (Where the fuck do talentless artists learn to mask their creative impotence with nauseatingly vacuous and politically correct language?)

If, like me, you are one of those music lovers who wish Alban Berg had lived at least a few years longer to write another concerto or two, I very much doubt Dünser's work will give you an illusion that your wish had somehow come true.  But just in case I'm wrong, you can check out the fruit of Dünser's 'compositional engineering' yourself in this live recording with Christian Altenburger as soloist and the Bruckner Orchester Linz conducted by Sviatoslav Borisov.  (The concert took place on 19 January 2016 in Graz, Austria.)

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