17 Oct 2011

Rouse – Der Gerettete Alberich (Alberich Saved)

Written by Jeff Counts

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, piccolo, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 6 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, antique cymbals, chimes, xylophone, castanets, tam-tam, bass drum, suspended cymbal, tom-toms, anvil, thunder sheet, harp, strings

Duration: 22 minutes in three movements.

THE COMPOSER – CHRISTOPHER ROUSE (b. 1949) – Pulitzer Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse had an eventful year in 1997. While maintaining his existing position at the Eastman School of Music, Rouse was featured composer at the Helsinki Biennale and joined the faculty at the Juilliard School that year. He also completed work on a piece for solo percussion and orchestra, a co-commission from the orchestras in London, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Baltimore.   

THE MUSIC – As the title clearly states, the inspiration for this piece was the treacherous Nibelungen dwarf king from Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Rouse’s own excellent program note (partially reprinted here with his kind permission) explains: “As Alberich’s whereabouts are unknown at the end of the Ring, it occurred to me that it might be engaging to return him to the stage, so to speak, so that he might wreak further havoc, in what is quite literally the godless world in which Wagner has left us in the final pages of Götterdammerung. The result was Der gerettete Alberich, whose title might best be translated as ‘Alberich Saved.’ Rather than a concerto, Der gerettete Alberich is more of a fantasy for solo percussion and orchestra on themes of Wagner, with the soloist taking the ‘role’ of Alberich. Much of the musical material in the work is derived from a number of motives associated with Alberich in the Ring, among them the motives for the curse, the power of gold, the renunciation of love, annihilation, the Nibelungs, and, of course, the Ring itself. Only Wagner’s Redemption through Love motive stands beyond the ken of the other, Alberich-related motives I have used, though I have rather maliciously distorted it to suit the purposes of my ‘hero.’” Rouse claims that he did not intend to “paint specific pictures” in this fascinating score. Instead, he offers us the opportunity to paint them ourselves with his dazzling instrumental colors as our palette.        

THE WORLD – Elsewhere in 1997, Hong Kong once became part of China, Madeleine Albright became the first female U.S. Secretary of State and Scottish scientists made a public announcement admitting to the existence of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult animal.

THE CONNECTION – These concerts represent the Utah Symphony premiere of Der gerettete Alberich.