The music of Edition Wandelweiser co-founder Antoine Beuger tends to fall within certain parameters, include a kind of quietness with extreme subtlety and, perhaps less often commented upon, deep emotional resonance. Those incarnations of emotions, while rarely demonstrative can also be intensely personal, to the extent that the listener may well feel like an intruder, as though walking into a room where Beuger is evoking these emotions unaware that someone is near. A prior example might be his 'keine fernen mehr', thirty-four brief tracks of Beuger whistling very, very softly, very privately even, as though to himself.
Here, the emotional level is much more overt. Not only via the title, 'laments', but in the interior poem, which reads in part:
...yes it is right to feel sad about terrible things
and when we express this sadness
in singing, for example or in fractured silence,
it arouses our powers
so let us be radically sad
shocked by the state of our world...
We hear only Beuger's voice over nine tracks (two discs), in laments ranging from about seven to fifteen minutes in length, recorded in late January and early February, 2021. The general effect is complex, even somewhat contradictory. The tone is one of an extremely grief-stricken individual though the volume level is largely subdued. While often sung in a steady, relatively clear voice with long-held notes, Beuger will allow the lamentation to fade into a grainy raspiness just next to inaudibility but, at the other end of the dynamic spectrum, it never rises to the kind of wail one might hear from, say, a parent bemoaning the death of their child though, as said, that intensity level is surely there. This makes for a kind of concentration of feeling that's as striking as it is uncomfortable.
The differences between the laments are subtle and, to be sure, 90 or so minutes of soft, intense, sad singing will test the patience of many a listener, but for those willing to give themselves over to the depth of feeling and honesty expressed here, Beuger's work will prove vital, real and sadly true.
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