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Kagel Duodramen; Szenario; Liturgien

Soloists with Gulbenkian Chorus Lisbon/Saarbrucken Radio SO/Mauricio Kagel

This is a highly successful compilation of three of Kagel's works involving orchestra, conducted by the composer.

Szenario (1982), with sounds of dogs barking (included on the pre-recorded tape) may be familiar to some cinemagoers as background music for the Buñuel/Dalí silent film Un Chien Andalou.

Duodramen (1998) is a crazy mixture of Mahlerian song-cycle and an imaginary opera final scene, with a cast including Cosima Wagner, Alma Mahler, Henry Ford and Genghis Khan!

Liturgien (1990) deconstructs and reconstructs the liturgy of the Christian mass, with Arabic side-looks, in a characteristically Kagel-esque anarchy; but although it is sometimes hard to follow the mishmash of languages eastern and western, the mood of this piece is seriously devotional. A typical sequence is "- - We glorify thee, O God!/Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Allah is great - - "; always topical, its stance is not at all ironical.

Liturgien repays repeated listening, and has something of the atmosphere of Stravinsky's Les Noces and (though far less austere) that of his late sacred works.

There are good notes by Richard Whitehouse, but listening to the disc is enhanced enormously by downloading (and printing out if you wish) the .pdf German and polygolot texts and their English translations from the Naxos website at http://www.naxos.com/sungtext/pdf/8.570179_Kagel_Texts.pdf, the availability of which can easily be missed, printed sideways as it is in small print on the back of the jewel case!

Excellent value for musical explorers.

Peter Grahame Woolf

For more background to Kagel, see PGW's report of the Royal Academy of Music's KAGEL Festival Comedy & Catastrophe, with the UK premiere of Duodramen (March 2001).