This week’s column on forgotten musical gems turns up Requiem for a Dying Planet
This record was released in 2006 by a venerable German label called Winter & Winter. It forms part of a series they produced of Audio-Films or “cinema for closed eyes”.
In 2004 , Werner Herzog went to Munich to see Stephen Winter because he wanted to find some very personal music for the documentaries The Wild Blue Yonder and The White Diamond. Herzog found what he was looking for in the shape of the Dutch cellist, Ernst Reijseger. For a musician of lesser quality, the brief was potentially daunting: “I want to use imagery and sound in a way you have never before experienced”, Herzog said.
In Reijseger, however, Herzog met his match. Here was a musician who not only played the cello with skill and craftmanship but one who was also blessed with a spirit of adventure and artistic openness that invited collaboration.
Herzog’s two films skirt the outer reaches of thought and the music is a soaring accompaniment to the stunning cinematography that is his trademark.
Even without the images, the music conjures the feeling of space opening up. It has a core stillness that stimulates contemplation. Its hypnotic waves of string tones invite the listener to disarm as the tones of the Senegalese singer Mola Sylla merge with the rich tapestry of drones and throat music of the Tenore e Concordu de Orosei. A whole new world opens up.
In Reijseger’s arrangements of ancient compositions originally written for religious rites, East meets West in a magical place. The sound of water, wind and thunder bookend the songs, suggestive of the sadness of a planet in demise. It’s sadly beautiful but undeniably a balm in the circumstances. Let the healing begin.