INSTRUMENTATION: solo contrabass, solo percussion (both amplified), 3,3,3,3 – 4,3,3,1 – 4 perc, strings



PREMIERE: November 14th, 2015 at Theaterhaus Stuttgart, for the celebration of Helmut Lachenmann’s 80th birthday, by Sinfonie-Orchester Stuttgart des SWR conducted by Peter Rundel.

COMMISSION: Sinfonie-Orchester Stuttgart des SWR

ABOUT: I met Helmut Lachenmann for the first time in his hometown Stuttgart. I asked if he could point out a few interesting places in the city, that would become the starting point of my new piece. We drove around uphill and downhill through the busy Stuttgart rush hour, and he generously showed me all the houses and places that were important for him and his family as he grew up. Ripost concludes my series of works focusing on urban sound scenarios. Usually I choose my own urban points of departure in cities that I know very well. Therefore it was very exciting to let Helmut Lachenmann’s choices as my personal Stuttgart guide decide the fate of the music.

I immediately sensed that I had to choose the most demanding of these places, but at the same time the most fascinating location from a musical point of view; the Wagenburgtunnel. This tunnel connects the city centre with the eastern part of Stuttgart and is nowadays heavily trafficked with cars, trucks and buses. Rather then documenting the history of the tunnel, the frame of the piece portraits the sounding constitution of the tunnel today and my own experience of its character. When you walk inside the Wagenburgtunnel, there is an extreme presence of goal directed time, like an inevitable and vigorous force forward. A whole spectrum of airy bright timbres and pulsating dark sounds flow through the space at highest speed. The buzzing drones never really disappear; the tunnel is like a restless creature, always glaring far away at the urban horizon.

The contrabass and percussion soloists’ roles are to explore the tunnel and its surroundings. There is an ongoing dialogue between them consisting of details from the noise flow that has been developed into resilient gestural fragments. The orchestra represents the tunnel itself, and shows initially a typical tunnel behaviour by shadowing and echoing the soloists. Gradually the tunnel progresses into a more active role, and starts to provoke the intruders in rapid and occasionally harsh confrontations. The percussionist’s object collection consists of “portable tunnels”; pipes in metal and plastic materials that are normally used for draining at construction works. Several contact microphones are placed at different positions on both the contrabass and the objects to enhance the crispiness of the details and the richness of frequencies and overtones.

PUBLISHER: Swedish Music Information Centre