Rosamunde Quartett THOMAS LARCHER Ixxu

The four chamber works by Austrian Thomas Larcher recorded here show that's he's a composer to watch out for. His compositional voice is strikingly unencumbered by adherence to any orthodoxy, and his work is direct in its emotional and intellectual communication. My Illness Is the Medicine I Need, for soprano, violin, cello, and piano, is particularly effective; its aphoristic texts come from a Benetton "Colors" magazine that included photographs of psychiatric hospitals and quotations from their patients. Larcher's understated text setting allows the voices of the patients to be heard with unaffected bleakness and it is strongly moving. Even though it uses a contemporary harmonic language, the string quartet Ixxu (1998-2004) is old-fashioned in its emotional clarity. Its last movement, "ruhig," is genuinely peaceful and brings to mind the serenity of Arvo Pärt's Fratres. His 1990 quartet Cold Farmer is similarly direct and generous in inviting the listener in, and here again the slow movement is especially deeply felt and engaging. The Rosamunde Quartett performs Ixxu and Cold Farmer with passion and conviction. In the other works, soprano Andrea Lauren Brown, violinist Christoph Poppen, cellist Thomas Demenga, and the composer at the piano give comparably intense and committed performances. ECM's sound is intimate and clean.

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