Chute d’Étoiles. Hommage à Anselm Kiefer für zwei Trompeten und Orchester

An outburst, breakdown, impasse stands at the beginning of Matthias Pintscher’s Chute d’Étoiles. Hommage à Anselm Kiefer für zwei Trompeten und Orchester. The orchestral composition starts with a brazen outcry from a massive orchestra. Its title refers to Anselm Kiefer’s monumental installation of the same name in the Grand Palais, Paris in 2007 and engages with it in a complex intellectual exchange, matched in force and drama. The orchestral piece is not only a homage to the artist and his work, but it also incorporates motifs and material from Pintscher’s work over the last few years. Kiefer’s image of “falling stars”, the concept that the world was born out of an explosion, combines destruction and creation. Creation lies in the process of obliteration. One state breaks down and gives birth to a new one. “We are born and do not know why. And if we do not hold on to it, if the cosmos does not help us, we are lost. We come from there! We were born with the first explosion. We consist of elements of the cosmos. And so we carry in us the infinitely great as well as the infinitely small. It is the microcosm and the macrocosm. I place myself in it and then I attempt to express what I feel with my means.” (Anselm Kiefer)

Matthias Pintscher has long been an admirer of the artist, his work and his compelling development. “He is one of the few artists where you can see from his earliest works precisely that aura and archaicism which he has refined to the present day. There is an idiom of strength and clarity which he has developed further for over forty years. I find it very exciting to see such a consistency in an artist’s work.” Pintscher’s Chute d’Étoiles is a homage to Kiefer and at the same time an expression, in the medium of sound, of the apocalypse depicted by the artist of the collapse of the world and conceptions of it.

The starting point for Pintscher’s orchestral composition “was the sound and the aura of the whole installation: an inspirational moment which enabled me to think further about the force of sounds which I have previously developed. The material is smelted, as it were, into lead: the entry of the solo trumpets is like the opening of two valves of a gigantic instrument made of lead, which provides air in a very finely-chiselled and concise form.” Janus-faced, the orchestral sound gives birth to a breathing voice which, however, is not presented as one individual, but is articulated in two forms. The trumpet part is unfolded: one instrument plays in two directions. This goes back to a process which Pintscher used fifteen years earlier in his composition Janusgesicht: “There is no virtuoso wrestling of the two, but they mutually inspire each other, they represent the same stance, play the same repertoire of sounds and techniques. One part opens out in two ways.” Nor do orchestra and soloists enter into a concertante dialogue, rather the trumpets are “like growths, they are fused on to this orchestral sound. They liberate, in concentrated form, the unit of this lead orchestra and take it into various states as soon as they leave this orchestral space.”

The softness and the weight of the lead which Kiefer uses in his works forms an inspiring starting point: “I find the ‘sound’ of lead in Kiefer’s works incredibly fascinating. This strength which is captured in this material! It is flexible, malleable, but unbelievably heavy. I find this state, with its combination of malleability and weight, exciting: I endeavour to make this audible in the music.”

In formal terms, the orchestral composition does not depict any conventional dramatic development. Pintscher creates a sculpture, an eruptive sound object, which drives out the events from the outburst of the beginning. In the process, “the ending mirrors the beginning. Individual particles break loose from the force of the outburst, which are then taken, transformed, fashioned into a concentrated mode, and at the end almost find their way back into their original state. The trumpet lines are, however, not isolated at the conclusion, but placed at the top of the sound in a high attack, and at the highest point the whole then breaks off.

In Chute d’Étoiles, Matthias Pintscher allows motifs, ideas and techniques which were present in his earlier works to culminate. He also practises the layering of the entire musical material in occultation, the third part of his ensemble triptychon Sonic eclipse. Connections and connotations to the theme of stars are evident, as in Osiris for orchestra and Bereshit for ensemble. All of these take as their themes myths of creation and destruction, emerging and obliteration: the new orchestral composition is finally a further development of those ideas in a new, literally spectacular context.

Marie Luise Maintz