Gesang der Geister über den Wassern

Instrumentation: 2, 2nd also picc. 2.2.2 – - timp - perc. (3) – Chorus (SCTB) – Strgs.

Gesang der Geister über den Wassern based on the well-known poem by Goethe has been set to music several times in music history. Probably the most well-known is Schubert's version for male choir and low strings, which Schubert himself made from his original solo song.
Now, in the 21st century, Ridil revisits this classically timeless text and sets it in a work for mixed chorus and orchestra of around twenty minutes.

The sheer power of language inherent in Goethe's text with its haunting imagery is, as one would expect, heightened in this composition by the musical implementation. Here the associative is systematically taken up and illustrated with all available musical means.
Just as in Goethe the restless soul of man and his unpredictable fate are compared to water or the wind, so in Ridil's finely worked out musical implementation both are perfectly comprehensible for the listener as well as for those who read the score. In addition to the chorus, the composer has a full symphony orchestra with an extraordinarily well-equipped percussion apparatus with 3 players at his disposal.

Already at the beginning of the orchestral introduction, when the timpani start with seemingly arrhythmic beats to the string tremolos, the instability and unpredictability in the inner being of the human being is worked out. In truth, of course, like everything else in this score, this follows a meticulously worked out calculation plan. This is very similar to comparable passages in Gustav Mahler's symphonies. How then from the almost hesitant beginning the different manifestations of the water develop, in audible as well as clearly recognizable wave movements, sometimes crashing down thunderously, sweeping everything away, here again calmly but steadily flowing or lying still like a mirror; all of this is explored from the most excellent in all facets. The extremely demanding, above all rhythmically extremely differentiated choral part nestles seamlessly with the finely instrumented orchestral part.

Martin Schmeck


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