Avant-garde German Composer Helmut Lachenmann Makes an Orchestrated Racket at Zipper Hall
by Julie Riggott
A violinist slides a bow vertically along the strings, instead of across them. Then she uses it to saw on the side of the instrument or even on the tuning pegs. The strange scrapes, scratches and whispers emanating from the stage might seem cacophonous to the virgin ear, but Helmut Lachenmann’s music is considered among the best of contemporary classical compositions.
All of the instruments, from the trumpet to the timpani, are used in unconventional ways in a Lachenmann concert, and each instance of noise – so called because the sounds are not pitched or tuned – is precisely orchestrated in a symphony of activity as fascinating to watch as it is to hear.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic music, some of the greatest music written in recent times, and certainly when the history is written, this will be up there with the most important