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Carl RÜTTI (b.1949)
Im Glockenstuhl Deines Schweigens (1978) [13:05]
Under der Linden (1983) [5:36]
Die vier Elemente (2006-9) [38:34]
Der Tanz des Gehorsams (2011) [16:37]
Praxedis & Praxedis (Hug Rütti (harp); Genevieve Hug (piano)).
rec. April 2012, Aula Sargans, Switzerland and May 2013, Flugelsaal Bulach, Switzerland.
GUILD GMCD 7402 [73:59]

Born in 1949, Carl Rütti is a contemporary Swiss composer known for his religious choral music, including the well-known carol I wonder as I wonder. His musical style is said to blend the English choral tradition with other genres including jazz and blues. In this high quality CD, duets for harp and piano are recorded to give voice to a sense of desire, elemental harmony and spiritual searching.
 
On this CD Hug-Rütti (harp) and Genevieve Hug (piano), known as Praxedis & Praxedis, perform some unusual poetic pictures and minimalist impressions. For instance, the seven miniatures which make up Im Glockenstuhl deines Schweigens were based on a poem by Paul Celan and the woodcuts of Peter Wullimann. These ‘pictures in music’ are a cross between Matisse’s cut-outs and Picasso’s ‘blue period’ paintings. Wullimann creates an otherworldly sense of existence. The haunting glow of the moon seeps into the sharp ethereal, yet real, images. Perhaps looking at these pictures offers an insight into Rütti’s composition.
 
Taking after the poet Walter von der Vogelweide’s (1170-1228) poem of the same name, the medieval sounding Under der Linden conjures images of sweetly singing nightingales and green pastures which leaves your heart ‘still throbbing in ecstasy’. For solo harp, this piece is incredibly textured and has a reminiscent air. 

The Four Elements are a sequence of interrelated components of masculine activity (fire and air) and feminine passivity (water and earth). Closely associated in character, but differing in form, these pieces are not affected or distracted by a layering of circumstantial happenings. Separately these are individual beings, but as a whole they form a collage of interrelated segments, a mosaic of images. In this sense, both intimacy and grandeur can be felt through Genevieve Hug’s evocative performance. Schwester Wasser is a font of bubbling sensations. Characteristically Rütti manages to avoid a cluttered sound and as a result this piece transcendentally surpasses any hints of the merely mechanical. Vater Feuer breaks through a shadowy world - created by a deep and tumultuous piano - and as it ignites, fuels a sense of coming together, granted through assertive chords and flashes of life. 

Der Tanz des Gehorsams (1997) was written for the Duo Praxedis and in honour of Silja Walter, a nun who wrote the volume of poetry that inspired this touching work. These pieces are based on the poems themselves which are usefully included in the sleeve-notes. The three colours of Walter’s straw mat are divinely laid out for her prayer (red), spiritual reading (yellow) and work (blue). These pieces trace the journey ‘to no-mans-land’ and ‘enter silence’ where, ‘under the moon’ ‘there streams the silent / eternal sea’. Outlining the spiritual path to God chosen by a nun, these sparse pieces are far from empty or isolated. The Duo Praxedis produce silvery tones to unmask uncertainty and solve the mysteries of Walter’s verse. A true sense of the astonishing awe of wonderment in this work can only be grasped if I quote from Silja Walter herself:-  

Held in God’s Grasp

Captured from behind
in a dance
still warm
and twitching
held in God’s grasp
shimmering beautifully
silver and cherry-red
glassy
lilac and cobalt blue
that’s Gomer
in the cloister 

Lucy Jeffery

Previous review: David R Dunsmore


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