The work clocks in at a little over an hour, filled with expressive ambition for a massed forces of Stefan Gorgner as countertenor, the two choirs of the KammerChor KlangsCala Salzburg and the dual string orchestras of the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, all under conductor Rupert Huber. What we hear was well recorded live at the Salzburg Cathedral in 2014.
The premise for the music is elaborate and resonant. It was initially commissioned in 2011. Part One was added three years later to make it an evening's worth of music in the extraordinarily resonant Salzburg Cathedral.
Wagner wanted to write an opera about the life of Buddha but didn't. Buddha Goes to Bayreuth in effect imagines it, or perhaps more properly to say he ere-imagines it The work features among other things chordal blocks that are derived from Parsifal. Some Tibetan Mantras are also part of the raw ingredients. The end result is original and absorbing, quite cosmic in a special space-time expressivity.
It is a long ethereal stretch of massive suspensions and holdings perfectly matched for the substantially lengthy natural echo of the cathedral. There is grit in the harmonic pointedness of the score and a good hour of contemplative sounds that have a feeling of timeless endlessness. There is an unmistakable present-day currency continually rolling along in our hearing experience. It is a beautiful sprawl that in a way uses the cathedral acoustics as an instrument with a deliberate sounding of length and depth. One must hear this to fathom it all. Words are not sufficient.
It brings you to an aural space that somehow straddles East and West, today and long ago yesterdays. It is something to experience in depth and the opening effect of the hearing grows as you listen again. Definitely recommended for the New Music vocal music adept, or for that matter anyone who seeks the new.
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