Jakob Ullmann makes music to be heard at the threshold of audibility. Mediation allows him to harness even the voluminous resources of a church organ towards these ends, though the temptation for drone lovers to tweak the playback volume dial upwards will be strong.
A shorter version Solo III für Orgel was included on the Fremde Zeit Addendum 3CD box set released on Edition RZ last year, rounding out the portmanteau “Solo I + II + III” (Solos I and II being for solo oboe and bassoon).
Fremde Zeit Addendum 4 · Solo III für Orgel (Edition RZ) presents the same piece in an extended, hour-long recital, played as before by Hans-Peter Schulz, recorded in October 2012 at the great organ of the German Abbey Church Neresheim.
At high volume, it would appeal to devotees of cavernous, Sunn O)))-style drone. But it is much more effective at low-level payback, with the solo’s organic efflorescence no less readily perceptible and even more beguiling.
Ullmann has spoken of modifications made to the organ in order to soften, restrict or otherwise tamp down its various effects in order to assist Schulz in playing with the remarkable subtlety and control he achieves here. Microphones were carefully placed to ensure an impression of considerable distance from the source. We listen to this music as we might observe constellations, as a portal to a telescoped vastness, its kinetic intensities experienced, distantly, as synaptic sense impressions.
In the opening minutes, an attenuated, high-pitch drone is married to a deep, reverberant pulse which will be its more-or-less constant companion for the duration. A fixed tempo and mood are soon established, and as it plays out the piece offers no real sense of progression, but the ear is constantly attuned to shifts in sound relations.
Those relations soon part as subtly differentiated layers of sound conducted at interpolated tempos. An aurally distant, fluting improvisational starburst heralds further flares of expositional energy that intermittently disturb the meshed sustains; yet the drone and pulse persist, seeming sometimes to expand, sometimes to split, to oscillate, or to ebb and flow in waves.
“Solo III” comprises elements both static and volatile. Schulz’s performance evokes a sense of entropy, which correlates nicely to the impossibility of any performer sustaining a performance into infinity, as the piece itself seems to demand, and the tensions between it’s graphic notation and the vicissitudes of its performance. The recorded sound is excellent, capturing on CD a fair distillation of the in-situ organ’s range and cavernous resonance.
Morton Feldman – Crippled Symmetry: at June in Buffalo.
Veryan Weston, Jon Rose, Hannah Marshall – Tuning Out: Pieces for Tracker Action Organs and Strings.
Philip Jeck + Charles Matthews + BJ Nilsen + Marcus Davidson + John Beaumont – Touch: Spire at St Botolph without Aldgate, 21 June 2012
Buy Fremde Zeit Addendum 4 direct from Edition RZ.