musica viva vol. 39 – WOLFGANG RIHM: STABAT MATER

BR-KLASSIK and musica viva are celebrating the 70th birthday of Wolfgang Rihm with two CDs. CD vol. 39 presents two important chamber music compositions by Wolfgang Rihm: Sphäre nach Studie (1993/2002), Male über Male 2 (2000/2008) and Stabat Mater for baritone and viola (2020). Performed by Christian Gerhaher, Tabea Zimmermann, Tamara Stefanovich and Jörg Widmann and members of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Stanley Dodds.

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Wolfgang Rihm is one of the most important contemporary composers of our time. The musician, professor of composition and author from Karlsruhe, Germany is a larger-than-life personality, and the contemporary music scene is impossible to imagine without him. His knowledge of music is all-encompassing, as is his mastery of the arts, literature and philosophy – all of which serve as sources of inspiration for his composing. With more than 400 compositions, he has created a universe that cannot easily be defined. Rihm has written New Music – the titles of his compositions have come to symbolise the musical history of recent decades. Other works by him refer to music history – they include, for example, oratorios inspired by Bach, orchestral works based on Brahms, or chamber music inspired by Schumann. His stage works enrich the programmes of opera houses. 

Rihm’s piece Sphäre nach Studie (1993/2002) for chamber ensemble received its world premiere on March 13, 2002 in Karlsruhe, and was also the opening work at the concert of the Bayerische Rundfunk musica viva series recorded live on December 8, 2020 in Munich’s Prinzregententheater. That concert concluded with Male über Male 2 (2000/2008), a commission by WDR that was premiered by Jörg Widmann in Witten in 2008. The origins of both works lie in solo pieces that Rihm has painted over and commented on several times. In them, he sends the piano as well as the highly virtuosic clarinet on journeys through new landscapes.

Between these two instrumental works, the baritone Christian Gerhaher and the violist Tabea Zimmermann perform Rihm’s haunting Stabat Mater (2020) – they gave its first performance less than ten months earlier, on September 23, 2020, in the Berliner Philharmonie (a commission from the Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin and the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker). In this work, the reduction to the unusual constellation of voice and string instrument creates a sound space in which much, perhaps everything, is possible. The direct confrontation of the baritone with the inner singing of the viola gives rise to a wordless song, a breathing line.

Wolfgang Rihm

Sphäre nach Studie
for 6 instrumentalists (1993 / 2002)

Stabat Mater
for baritone and viola (2020)

Male über Male 2
for clarinets and 9 instrumentalists (2000 / 2008)

Christian Gerhaher, baritone
Tabea Zimmermann, viola
Tamara Stefanovich, piano
Jörg Widmann, clarinet

Members of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Stanley Dodds, Conductor


1 CD highprice 
Product Number: 900639
Total time: 58:05 min


  • Two important chamber music compositions by Wolfgang Rihm: Sphäre nach Studie (1993/2002) and Male über Male 2 (2000/2008) as well as
  • the hauntingly powerful Stabat Mater for baritone and viola (2020)
  • Internationally sought-after performers who are intimately familiar with Rihm’s musical language, including Christian Gerhaher, Tabea Zimmermann and Jörg Widmann
  • Performed by members of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Stanley Dodds
  • Recording of a concert in the BR series “musica viva” from the Munich Prinzregententheater on December 8, 2020

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