Klaus Lang


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The music of Klaus Lang (Austria, 1971) spanned a broad range of styles, but mostly originated from Alvin Lucier's stationary sound.

Der Weg des Prinzen I/ The Path of the Prince I for chamber ensemble (1996), one of his earliest compositions, sets in motion a group of understated bass drones that initially simulate a death murmur but then, littered with "dripping" percussive sounds, become a mythical landscape and even a living organism in their own. Klaus Lang exported Alvin Lucier's ideas into chamber music, thereby producing the equivalent of melody and harmony with drones instead of notes as the fundamental elements.

Der Schlafende Landmann, der Baum des Lebens und die Schalen der Finsternis/ The sleeping farmer, the tree of life and the pools of darkness for solo piano (1998) is one of his hyper-minimal pieces: the pianist hardly touches the keyboard.

Die Uberwinterung Der Mollusken/ The Hibernation of the Mollusks (Durian, 1999) contains Der Weg Des Prinzen I/ The Path of the Princes (1996) for flute, saxophone, mezzosoprano, viola, two percussion, and accordion; Die Drei Spiegel Der Schoenen Karin/ The Three Mirrors of the Beautiful Karin (1998) for solo contrabass; Cetus Candidus (1996) for trombone, flute, strings, saxophone, percussion and clarinet; Der Herr Der Insel/ The Lord of the Island (1999) for solo flute.

Trauermusiken (Edition RZ, 2002) contains the colossal quartet The Sea Of Despair (1995).

Sei-jaku (2003) contains another string quartet.

The hyper-sparse Lichtgeschwindigkeit (C+P Grob, 2003) was a collaboration with jazz avant-bassist Werner Dafeldecker.

The mood is funereal in Zwillingsgipfel/ Twin Peaks for flute and piano (2003).

He also composed the Missa Beati Pauperes Spiritu (Col Legno, 2006), premiered in 2005.

Einfalt Stille (2007), composed in 1999, is a four-movement composition for flute, percusion, viola and voice.

Geschrieben in Wasser/ Written in the Water (2007) is a short work for piano quartet.

The Book Of Serenity (2008) contains The Book Of Serenity for chamber ensemble (2008), a subliminal concerto of barely audible hisses and buzzes, the similarly bashful piano quintet Drei Goldene Tiger/ Three Golden Tigers (2007), Der Fette Hirte Und Das Weise Kaninchen/ The Fat Shepherd and the White Rabbit for flutes and percussion (2001), and Die Goldenen Tiere/ The Golden Animals for flute, french horn, violin, viola and two performers (1999), a piece that stages a sort of call and response act by mixing a small crowd of droning instruments and individually plucked instruments.

His droning works include: Marias Mantel for organ (2005), a work of shifting drones, The Ocean Of Yes And No for chamber ensemble (2008), in which the instruments seem to simulate human laments, Weisse Aepfel/ White Apples for string trio (2009), a work of alternating anguished drones, The Thin Whale/ Der Duenne Wal for oboe and ensemble (2012), that instead combines the sustained tones for the purpose of suspense, Hungrige Sterne/ Hungry Star for clarinet, horn, viola, violoncello and contrabass (2012), another work for overlapping and colliding droning instruments (and perhaps the best one), etc.

Origami for flute, cello and accordion (2011) is a work of minimalist repetition whose fluttering pattern, skilfully elongated after many mutations, begins to sound soulful and polyphonic.

By his standards, there is a lot of movement in Schwarzes Licht/ Black Light for zither and orchestra (2013). The highest point is probably not when the whole orchestra assembles a wind that blows away the zither's lonely song; but when a few seconds later the zither is riflected and refracted by the other instruments to become a million zithers. The zither eventually regains its solitude and delights with its simple chant. The orchestra rises one more time in menacing fashion, a tidal wave surging over the entire Earth but this catastrophe passes too, and the zither can resume its simple strumming.

SAIS (Maria de Alvear, 2014) is a concept album about cows, scored for flute, percussion and piano.

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(Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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