Roland Dahinden - Silberen, Lichtweiss

Roland Dahinden


mode 138


Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music Roland Dahinden - Silberen, Lichtweiss

SILBEREN (1999)   (44:27)
for piano and string quartet
Hildegard Kleeb, piano
The Arditti Quartet

for vibraphone solo
     2. lichtweiss I   (4:36)
     3. lichtweiss II   (6:45)
     4. lichtweiss III   (7:23)
     5. lichtweiss IV   (2:53)
        Bernd Thurner, vibraphone

Composer supervised recordings
  • Swiss trombonist Roland Dahinden (b.1962) is well-known for his work in improvisational jazz and new music.
  • As a composer, Dahinden is influenced by John Cage, Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier. His works are often influenced by works of art.
  • Built in 21 movements, every time in a different instrumental combination, "silberen's" tonal material is highlighted from a different side, as if one were walking, in a circle, around a sculpture. The piano, setting its tones with the echo of the open pedal; and the quartet, which is able to modulate its sounds, creates an interior to the wide sound space of the piano. This is quiet music that is full of subtle changes.
  • In its four movements for solo vibraphone, "lichtweiss" builds on a fine differences: I and III on the difference in attack between hard and soft mallets, II on the difference between the bowed and struck sounds, IV on that between a loud and a very quiet layer. This differentiation in tone leads to a gradation of sounds in the space.
  • Composer supervised first recordings.
  • Performers include the renowned Arditti Quartet and Swiss new music pianist Hildegard Kleeb.


Roland Dahinden
Silberen, Lichtweiss
Mode 138

Inspired by the play of light in nature and in art, Roland Dahinden creates soundscapes that gleam with aural luminescence, so suggestive of visual phenomena that his work borders on the synesthetic. Similar in its calm ambience and its sense of suspended time to works by John Cage and Morton Feldman, Silberen for piano and string quartet is slow, meditative, and austere in its sonorities, evocative of the chalkstone landscape of the Silberen mountain range. Dahinden's spare notes and chords are treated as pure sounds, interlocking but without melodic connections or harmonic functions, and the cycling of pitches seems independent of structure and direction. The absence of any clear arrival point concentrates the listener's attention on events in the moment, which are touched on briefly then replaced by new combinations. Pianist Hildegard Kleeb and the Arditti Quartet are controlled and guardedly expressive, and their nuanced timbres reveal intense concentration. Bernd Thurner's meticulous performance of Lichtweiss for vibraphone is similarly focused and subdued. As muted as the subtly shaded monochrome paintings of Inge Dick, which stimulated Dahinden's imagination, this piece is based on refined gradations of attack, varied through the use of hard and soft mallets. Supervised by the composer, these works are accurately rendered and superbly recorded.
--- Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide

Roland Dahinden
Silberen, Lichtweiss
The Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti, Graeme Jennings (violins), Dov Scheindlin (viola), Rohan de Saram (cello); Hildegard Kleeb (piano); Bernd Thurner (vibraphone).
Mode 138

In his piano quintet, Swiss composer / trombonist Dahinden echoes Richard Long's sculptural stone arrangements. At 44:27, silberen's 19 linked movements open like a late-Feldman ditty, but soon withdraw into a somnambulistic haze of lonely pitches and resigned gestures. Where Feldman may offer a pattern and then gently shake it, Dahinden's continually altering material eventually resolves to the familiar. Imagine wandering aimlessly through a strange city, suddenly turning a corner and coming on to your starting point from a different angle. The opening piano sonority functions exactly like this, at one point beginning a sentence, elsewhere perched inside a lengthy soliloquy.

The Ardittis reel out single notes which occasionally bond to form astringent chords. It's hard to discern whether their steeliness is indifference or strict adherence to Dahinden's wishes. Mutes and flautando unexpectedly mimic clarinet tones. The piano's resonance contrasts with the strings' minimal vibrato. Captured closely, some keyboard attacks strike harshly like an upturned hand. The Ardittis and pianist Kleeb - Dahinden's wife - combine to create what must be a definitive performance, a deliberate effort to craft something vulnerable. Program notes refer to the work's "whiteness." I'm not sure this means Dahinden eschews sharps and flats, but the open spacing and contemplative pacing suggest a fog-wrapped Zen experience in keeping with Long's artwork.

A four-movement solo vibraphone piece from the same year, lichtweiss, completes the disc. As in silberen, the pace is slow, but the resonant steel bars enlivened by sticks and bows shine brightly.
---Grant Chu Covell, La Folia online review, March 2005

Roland Dahinden's "Silberen" picked as one of the "Best of 2004" by Alex Ross, the music critic of The New Yorker.

Roland Dahinden
Silberen, Lichtweiss
Mode 138

Der Schweizer Roland Dahinden, Jahrgang 1962, war Schüler u.a. von Georg F. Haas, Vinko Globokar und Anthony Braxton, wobei er gerade bei Globokar und Braxton die hohe Schule der Improvisation durchlief, der er seitdem mit seiner Posaune alles abverlangt. Doch wie erstaunlich die Diskrepanz zwischen musikalischer Praxis und dem Kompositionsprozess sein kann, lässt sich anhand der beiden Werke erleben, die sich fern von jeglichem exhibitionistischen Ausdrucksdrang bewegen. Im Gegenteil. Als wäre Dahinden noch einmal der Geist von Morton Feldman erschienen, stehen Silberen und Lichtweiss für ein behutsames Ausloten von Musik und Zeit. Die einzelnen Töne, die kurz vor dem Erfrieren zu stehen scheinen, bewegt Dahinden mit vorsichtiger Hand. Minimalistisch, subtil und zart. Mit einer kaum merklichen Differenzierung der Rhythmik und mit einer dynamischen Skala aus Piano und Pianissimo, die den Werken ihre archaische Aura verleiht. Allein Silberen für Streichquartett und Klavier wird damit zu einer Beschwörung der Ursprungslosigkeit, die zum Nachlauschen zwingt. Auf fast 45 Minuten ist dieses Stück angelegt. Und daher muss die Spannung genauso gehalten werden, nichts darf zittern, wie es schon Feldman in seinen mehrstündigen Langstreckenkompositionen für Steichquartett gefordert hat.

Solche auch konditionellen Höchstschwierigkeiten sind jedoch für das Arditti Quartet längst Alltag. Und auch mit der Pianistin Hildegard Kleeb lassen sich diese Slow-Motion-Empfingungswelten ein- und ausatmen. Mit radikaler Aufmerksamkeit für die versiegenden, feinen wie nuancenreichen Klangwerte konturieren sie so Dahindens Extrem-Vorstellungen von fragilen Körpern - und schärfen damit die unendlichen Möglichkeiten des Dazwischen-Hörens.

Mit einer gleichfalls auf den ersten Blick unspektakulären Reduktion lenkt Lichtweiss für Vibrafon Solo die ganze Aufmerksamkeit auf sich. Dahinden ließ sich dafür von fast weißen Gemälden der österreichischen Künstlerin Inge Dick anregen. Und wie die Schattierungen auf der Leinwand nur nach gründlichstem Augenschein sinnfällig werden, so organisiert Dahinden das vierteilige Lichtweiss zu einem luftigen Ton-Mobile, das faszinierend facettenreiche Schatten wirft. Zumal auch hier der Interpret (Bernd Thurner) zum idealen Partner wird, der diese unaufgeregten, musikalischen Grundsubstanzen vor dem meditativen Ritual schützt.

Auch wenn Dahinden nicht zuletzt durch seine Vorliebe für die Bildende Kunst als Initialzündung nahezu endgültig zum Alter Ego Morton Feldmans wird, so gibt gerade diese Einspielung ihm Recht, an dem Projekt jenes Minimalismus weiterzuarbeiten, bei dem Zeit kaum eine Rolle spielt.
--- Guido Fischer, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Schott Verlag, 2005

Roland Dahinden
Silberen, Lichtweiss
Mode 138

The Rest Is Noise: à la Mode
Happiness came the other day in the form of a fat envelope from Mode Records, the august New sYork new-music label. For years I've been treasuring Mode's releases of John Cage and Morton Feldman. The new batch contains vol. 8 of the Feldman Edition, Triadic Memories, available either as a single DVD or as 2 CD's, with Marilyn Nonken tickling the ivories; a 2-CD of the music of Cage-Feldman henchman Christian Wolff; the slow, static, largely tonal music of Somei Satoh, with Petr Kotik conducting the Janacek Philharmonic; and nervously expressive works of Jason Eckardt. So far the one I've really fallen for is a disc devoted to Swiss composer-trombonist Roland Dahinden, born 1962, who roams around in the rich landscape between the classical avant-garde and post-free jazz. The big work on the program, silberen, for piano quintet, strongly recalls Feldman in its hushed dynamics and glacial tempo, but something about the mood and sound is quite un-Feldmanlike. The language is not as chromatic as Feldman's, and sometimes hovers on the border of modal tonality, especially at the beginning. While Feldman often has secret narratives and dramas at work in his music, Dahinden avoids even a ghost of tension or conflict; he proceeds serenely from one collection of tones to another, as if puttering around a lunar garden. The Arditti Quartet and pianist Hildegard Kleeb play with magical purity of tone. I'm eager to hear more from this composer.
--- Alex Ross, The New Yorker, August 31, 2004

Related Resources:

Also by Roland Dahinden on Mode:
as composer:
Flying White (mode 175)
Naima (mode 62)

and as a trombonist:
Alvin LUCIER: Small Waves for String Quartet, Trombone, Piano and
    Two Water Pourers with Hildegard Kleeb (piano) and The Arditti
    Quartet. (mode 124)
Christian WOLFF: Tilbury Pieces; Snowdrop. - with Hildegard Kleeb
    (piano) and Dimitrios Polisoidis (violin, viola) (mode 74)

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