One of the few modern composers who incorporates the sound of electronic musical equipment into his highly unusual and multi dimensional scores is also doing great things for electronic music in general, namely bringing the possibilities of a single instrument capable of limitless expression (i.e. the common or garden synthesizer) to the attention of those who invariably turn off at the thought of anything that has to be turned on before it'll work.
A native of Austria, Karlheinz Essl is fast making his mark in the classical music world. Capable of producing a myriad of emotive and effective statements without overstatement of the obvious or traditional.
Entsagung, track five on the compilation CD Rudiments, includes some of the most subtle interplays between acoustic and electronic instruments that I've ever heard on a modern classical recording, and although my experiences listening to such works range from those produced by the likes of Wendy Carlos, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Paul Lansky, I do believe I know enough about the deeper side of electronic music to realise that what he is doing is up there with the best around.
I'd like to revisit this recording, after hearing more music from other composers, and see wether I have a deeper understanding of what's exactly going on, and why. All I really know for sure is that it's a great CD, one which I'll be playing alongside albums from the likes of Kraftwerk, Prodigy and Fluke.
Paul Clarke: electronicmusic.com
This CD was released in 1995 as the first solo album of Karlheinz Essl. Now, as it is sold out, you can listen to the music online thanks to SoundCloud:
met him pike trousers (1987)
for large orchestra
United Philharmonic; Dir: Richard Edlinger
Helix 1.0 (1986)
for string quartet
Arditti String Quartet (London)
for 4 snare drums
Les Guetteurs des Sons; Dir: Heinz Karl Gruber
Close the Gap (1990)
for 3 tenor saxophones
Ensemble XASAX (Paris)
for flute, bass clarinet, prepared piano, percussion and
Klangforum Wien; Dir: Gerd Kühr
Lexikon-Sonate (1992 ff.)
interactive realtime composition for computer-controlled piano
Bösendorfer SE Grand Piano (excerpt)
"One of the few modern composers who incorporates the sound of electronic musical equipment into his highly unusual and multi dimensional scores is also doing great things for electronic music in general. A native of Austria, Karlheinz Essl is fast making his mark in the classical music world. Capable of producing a myriad of emotive and effective statements without overstatement of the obvious or traditional."Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader (15 Apr 1999)
"The music of the Viennese composer Karlheinz Essl is a case study in the disintegration of boundaries between improvisation and composition. On the 1995 compilation Rudiments (TONOS), which includes several examples of his imaginative abstract writing (Met him pike trousers, Helix 1.0), Essl travels easily between two modes, particulary on Close the Gap, a composition for three tenor saxophones. Though it is driven bey an unmistakable logic, the piece nevertheless reveals many hallmarks of the extended technique practiced by improvisers - the percussive pops, the legato arcs, and the staccato unisons."Mauro Carli, Il Manifesto (3 Mar 1996)
"Essl è un giovane compositore, nato a Vienna nel '60. Rudiments contiene 6 partiture scritte tra l'86 e il '94. Si passa dalla grande orchestra al quartetto d'archi, dall quartetto di percussioni al trio di sassofoni tenori. Conclude con live electronics e computer. Tutto, come è stato scritto in altri contesti, 'basato sull'estetica di due concetti: imprevedibilità e conseguenza. Queste due supposizioni portano a considerare che una scienza del disordine può ritrovare il disordine reale dietro l'ordine apparente.' E questo rende al meglio l'idea di scrittura Essl."
Updated: 18 May 2015