SUNKEN TREA­SURE

This week’s col­umn on for­got­ten mu­si­cal gems turns up Re­quiem for a Dy­ing Planet

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

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.

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