Karlheinz Essl


Electronic Sound Performance

Karlheinz Essl: Wagneriana - Three Deconstructions on Richard Wagner (Ron Schepperd)
in: textura.org (January 2014)

(...) Essl's work can be viewed as an examination of notions of authorship and the ways by which Wagner's music can be wrested from its creator's grasp, and of how the meanings he imputed to the material are supplemented by a proliferation of additional meanings that others, such as Essl, bring to it. But not only is his recording a literal deconstruction of Wagner's music, it's also an exercise in defamiliarization, a means by which the listener can be stirred from a conventional, reflexive reception of Wagner's work to confront it anew.

Essl's work leads the listener sufficiently familiar with Wagner's music into a re-examination of the composer's work. At the risk of overstatement, one might argue that repeated exposure to Wagneriana - Three Deconstructions on Richard Wagner could result in the listener never hearing the composer's operas in the same way again.

The eight-minute opener WalkürenWalk repeatedly struggles to break free, with only scattered micro-snippets and smeared fragments of the original recording appearing to hint at the work in question. “Ride of the Valkyries” appears to be the source, though Essl teases the listener by exposing only so much of the piece as to render it identifiable. Those surging strings and epic horns certainly seem to identify the original as such, even if they're mangled by Essl's manipulations.

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Updated: 3 Jan 2014