Dietrich Eichmann is both a composer and a free improviser. One facet of his activities informs the other, giving him a different grasp of indeterminacy in music. There is no chance or improvisation involved in "Entre Deux Guerres," the 46-minute work featured on this CD. Everything is written down, but some sections were obtained through free improvisation that was later notated. It gives the music an unusual momentum, free-flowing yet rigid, like a showroom dummy placed in a pose that suggests freedom. If it sounds like Eichmann has failed, it is not the case. Ambiguity, tension, and forced movements of this sort are at the heart of this work. The title "Entre Deux Guerres" is a French expression that designates the historic period between the first and second World Wars (1918-1939) -- literally the "between two wars." Presented as a "concerto for solo piano and 14 instrumentalists," it would be better described as being scored for 15 soloists. Except in part three where it is featured in a cadenza, the piano rarely takes center stage and the distinction between soloist and ensemble gets as thin as possible -- soldiers working toward a same goal but surprisingly refusing any form of authority except for the battle plan. It sounds like highly controlled chaos, reminiscent of Edgard Varèse's most dynamic pieces. Christoph Grund had the difficult task of negotiating scored improvised gestures. Members of the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg perform on strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, electric guitar, and accordion. This work is not entertaining, neither is it pleasant. Eichmann's views on war are forcefully negative and he made no attempt to tone them down. The music leaps at the listener, aggressive, challenging, uncompromising, punishing. The demonstration is at times cold but makes for a rewarding listen and it will surely stand as a landmark in Eichmann's oeuvre.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture