Dieter Ammann – glut (2016)

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Dieter Ammann: “glut” (2014-2016) for orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. (The images of the score are examples and are not meant to correspond to the music being heard).

“A world whose inner glow, shaped into sound, drives towards the external.” This is how Dieter Ammann describes his new orchestral work, composed as part of the “Œuvres Suisses” for the Tonhalle Orchestra and the Bern Symphony Orchestra. The title glut can be understood in both German and English and determines the programme of the work. Translated, it means blaze, glow, fervour. Dieter Ammann’s music is generally characterised by its open, energetic, surprising and communicative quality, and consistently through a high density, a refined, sophisticated texture. glut now continues in the same vein: “Even by my standards”, says Ammann, the new work is “characterised by an exceptionally high concentration of events. This concentration relates not only to what is heard simultaneously – that is the vertical – but also to the multitude and complexity of the processed concepts of sound, and therefore to the great diversity of textures which successively unfold in the course of the piece.”

The greatest possible diversity of musical material is used in order to illuminate the “machine of the orchestra” from various angles, and to realize the composer’s acoustic vision. What results is a constantly changing topography of sounding phenomena, held together dramaturgically firstly by references forwards and backwards to events, and secondly through “steady” harmonic fields, some of which acquire the function of caesura because of their extended duration. Through this, they make the formal sequence more comprehensible, similar to the way that cadences assume this function in major-minor tonal music.

glut, this time in the sense of fervour, also becomes a metaphor for the process of composing: the title stands, according to Ammann “for the passion of researching in one place for months at a time, of burying yourself in the infinite mass of possible sounds, and so of stumbling into areas which were unknown to you before. There, only a slow, intuitive moving forward is possible in order to give shape to the imagined. At the same time, however, a music of this kind developing in every dimension, that is from the single note via complete passages to the overall form, must be examined and tested in its substance, which in turn requires a rational approach. Working on this piece, to maintain the contradiction, also therefore means to be on a journey in a world as a searcher, at the same time as you are its own creator.’

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