Nicolas Hodges ROLF RIEHM Hamamuth – Stadt der Engel / Wer Sind diese kinder

 Both the piano work “Hamamuth – Stadt der Engel”, premiered at the Darmstadt Summer Courses in 2006, and the piano concerto “Wer sind diese Kinder”, premiered at the Donaueschingen Music Festival three years later, are two of the major artistic attempts of the past decades which try to substantially broaden the spectrum of political music.
In “Hamamuth – Stadt der Engel”, the composer Rolf Riehm intends to respond as an artist to the omnipresence of violence experienced during the Iraq War. “This is about prevailing perceptions. 'Stadt der Engel' [City of Angels]: They refer to the pictures of devastation in Iraq which can be regularly seen on TV” – this is the beginning of Riehm's detailed introductory text which is incorporated in the score of the work. In “Wer sind diese Kinder” [Who are these children], this approach is continued.
Both works show that it would be insufficient to look for their political facets exclusively on a semantic level. The physical understanding of music appears to be almost equally important: As a consequence, the political is deeply engrained in the texture of Riehm's works – as a reflection on the omnipresence of international political conflicts and on how to deal with it appropriately. “Hamamuth – Stadt der Engel” and “Wer sind diese Kinder” are examples of how both dimensions are interwoven with each other in Riehm's works in a fascinating way.

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