Composer Reiko Füting Releases The World Premiere Recording Of Opera MECHTHILD

The recording will be released on May 5.

By: Apr. 27, 2023
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Composer Reiko Füting Releases The World Premiere Recording Of Opera MECHTHILD

On Friday, May 5, 2023, New York-based German composer Reiko Füting will release the world premiere recording of his opera Mechthild, with libretto by poet and theologian Christian Lehnert, on New Focus Recordings. Füting's opera, which was inspired by the Medieval "mystery play," premiered in Magdeburg, Germany September 16-18, 2022, marking the occasion of the ceremonial reopening of the monastery church and the north wing in the art museum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen Magdeburg. The cross-genre production combines medieval and contemporary music in a sound space and is dedicated to Mechthild von Magdeburg, a Christian medieval mystic and proponent of asceticism, and an important personality in the city's history. The premiere featured sopranos Olivia Stahn and Hannah Herfurtner, actress Susi Wirth, AuditivVokal Dresden, Ensemble Adapter, and New York-based New Chamber Ballet, with Olaf Katzer conducting. In addition, the performance included live-painting by Helge Leiberg and contemporary interviews of homeless people spoken by high school students of the Hegelgymnasium Magdeburg.

Watch the documentary about Füting's Mechthild.

Praised by Textura for his attractive "ability to subtly develop themes within a richer and often quite complex texture," Füting shares, "My aim was to create both a space of language and a space of sounds. As such, the sounds of voices and instruments function as an expansion of the space of language."

"With my music, I aim to explore the psychological nature of memory, as it is projected onto the compositional device of musical quotation. By realizing this device in the entire musical spectrum of assimilation, integration, dissimilation, disintegration, and segregation, while moving freely between clear borders and gradual transitions, quotation and memory may function as a means to reflect upon contemporary artistic, cultural, social, and political phenomena."

Dedicating this composition in loving gratitude to his father, Dieter Füting, the composer further discusses his vision behind the album: "The work has another structural layer that I built using musical quotations, which have an ability to create trans-temporal relationships. In addition to composing the acoustic space of the musical performance, I also composed the temporal space of music, defined as the space of the composition as well as the space of tradition. To compose this second structural layer, I integrated fragments of medieval compositions by Perotin, Guillaume de Machaut, and Neidhard von Reuenthal. In addition, quotations from Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Rudolk Meuersberger have found their way into the work. These are often almost unnoticeable references, like fleeting memories. While at times they are more recognizable; rarely do they reveal their entire identity."

Through images that reflect the "flowing light of divinity," librettist Christian Lehnert adapted Mechthild von Magdeburg's own texts into a narrative that consists of three sections to emphasize the relevance of Mechthild today.

In his expansive liner notes, Lehnert detailed the breakdown of each section, "In the first part, the Beguine, fatally ill, returns to her 'home.' In a vision, she experiences erotic unity with divinity. External perspective and internal space confront each other.

"In the second part, Mechthild experiences the opposite: lonesome godlessness. She experiences this state as the abyss of death, as an infinite fall. At the same time, this experience cleanses all thinking and believing; it cleanses herself and any imagination of God. Mechthild experiences a negation of God in order to find God. In a vision of hell, she descends to the deepest abyss.

"In the third part, Mechthild lives in a monastery. She now finds God in the people whom she serves, as a caregiver. Mechthild's faith moves - metaphorically speaking - through fire: warmth and light were created, and the loss of herself became a deepening of her own existence. Transformed, she now finds God everywhere. She does not find God as thought or faith, but rather as a life force."

About Reiko Füting
Reiko Füting was born in 1970 in Königs Wusterhausen in the German Democratic Republic. He studied composition and piano at the Hochschule für Musik "Carl Maria von Webern" in Dresden, at Rice University in Houston, at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, and at Seoul National University. Some of his most influential teachers have been the composers Jörg Herchet and Nils Vigeland, and the pianist Winfried Apel.

Reiko joined the theory faculty at the Manhattan School of Music in 2000. Five years later, he became a member of the composition faculty and was appointed chair of the theory department. In 2020, he was also appointed chair of the composition department and is currently serving as Dean of Academic Core and Head of Composition. He has taught vocal accompaniment at the Conservatory of Music and Theater in Rostock, Germany, and appeared as guest faculty and lecturer at universities and conservatories in China, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

As a composer, Reiko has received numerous prizes, awards, scholarships, grants, and commissions. His music has been performed in several countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. His compositions are published by Verlag Neue Musik in Berlin, Germany, and most of his recordings have been released on the New York-based New Focus label. He has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, ensembles, and orchestras, with a particular interest in vocal ensembles and ensembles performing on period instruments. His opera on the life of the mystic nun Mechthild von Magdeburg premiered at the reopening of the concert hall in Magdeburg, Germany in 2022. Learn more information at www.reikofueting.com.

Mechthild Tracklist

Reiko Füting - Mechthild (2022)

Act I: Verwunden, vereint/ Wond, United
1. Scene 1: Ankunft/ Arrival [4:40]
2-5. Scene 2: Die Kranke/ The Invalid [7:53]
6-15. Scene 3: Im Gemach der Gottheit/ In the Room of Divinity [12:53]

Act II: Die Gottesfremde/ The Alienated
16-17. Scene 4: Abgekippt/ Dumped [11:54]
18. Scene 5: Wo bist du dann? Where Will You Then Be? [3:43]
19. Scene 6: Höllenfahrt/ Descent into Hell [8:54]
20. Scene 7: Nichts/ Naught [3:49]

Act III: Nach Gott/ After God
21-22. Scene 8: Im Krankensaal/ In the Ward [10:90]
23. Scene 9: Feuer/ Fire [8:17]

Total Time: 73:15

Mechthild, ihre Seele/ her Soul: Hanna Herfurtner, soprano
Mechthild, ihr Korper/ her Body: Olive Stahn, soprano
Sprecherin (Sophia) / Narrator (Sophia): Susi Wirth, narrator

AuditivVokal Dresden
Dorothea Wagner, soprano 1
Katharina Salden, soprano 2
Mutter/ Mother: Bernadette Beckermann, alto
Stefan Kunath, countertenor
Jüngling/Youth: Jonas fInger, tenor 1
Arzt, Kranker/ Physician, Patient: András Adamik, tenor 2
Ensemble Adapter
Flutes: Kristjana Helgadóttir
Clarinets: Ingolfur Vilhjálmsson
Violoncello: Andreas Voss
Harp: Gunnhildur Einarsdóttir
Percussion: Matthias Engler
Organ: Konrad Schobel
Conductor: Olaf Katzer



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