Konrad Boehmer

Konrad Boehmer: In Illo Tempore; Je Vis - Je Meurs; Nomos Protos

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These are retrospective recordings from Konrad Boehmer's '70s and '80s period, a time in which he tried desperately to tell anyone who would listen that he was not a serialist composer but relentlessly followed the dictates of Webern and Berg and Schoenberg, adding only flourishes of individuality that he proclaimed as highly important and original ideas. Boehmer is easily the most pretentious among Europe's post-World War II composers. In these formalist works, such as his piano work "In Ilio Tempore," he uses tone row upon tone row to close space from the outside and make a dense, colorless square of serial harmony and counterpoint. In his "Je Vis-Je Meurs" sets from the sonnets of Rilke for flute and soprano, Boehmer borrows so thoroughly from Webern, one would think that these were the latter's own songs if they weren't so basic in their construction and limpid in their execution. Wherever he is, I only hope the great German poet cannot hear the complete murder of his work for the sake of "modern art" by a self-proclaimed revolutionary. Finally, "Nomos Protos" for piano and orchestra is supposedly based on musical forms from the raga to serialism as well as the "middle tone" theory, but comes off as one stack of tone rows imposed upon another by different sections of the orchestra; there is little in the manner of engaging tempo, color, or texture to hold one's attention, no matter how strident Boehmer's liner notes are in insisting he is an innovator. This is another in a seemingly endless series of boring gasbag expressions from Boehmer's unfortunately deep catalog. In their dullest moments and most pretentious drivel, Stockhausen and Boulez are infinitely more imaginative and interesting.

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