"...two feelings ..." - by Helmut Lachenmann

Musik mit Leonardo für Sprecher und Instrumentalensemble

The composer rehearses with the Kammerorchester Neue Musik Berlin 1998

"…Two Emotions" -- by Helmut Lachenmann
Music with Leonardo for speakers and instrumental ensemble
A film by Uli Aumüller
Chamber Music Ensemble Neue Musik Berlin
Peter Rundel, Conductor.
Documentary for Bavarian TV, 1998
Camera: Christopher Rowe, bvk, Günther Uttendorfer, Frank Zeller, Kathleen Herbst, / Sound: Georg Morawietz, Gerd Rische, Henry Dürheim / Film Editor: Bernhard Schönherr
Beta SP 4:3, 60 min., Stereo

Leonardo da Vinci was overcome by two emotions while looking into the mouth of a volcano that had erupted shortly before: fear and desire. Fear of death, and desire for knowledge - and at the same time he feared the knowledge he might discover down below on the other side of the edge between life and death.
Both Leonardo’s short prose fragments describe a variation of the Platonic cave parable and an erotic motif. This inspired Helmut Lachenmann to compose " ... Two emotions ... Music with Leonardo for speakers and instrumental ensemble “, a fiery Mediterranean intermezzo for his opera “The Little Match Girl”.
Because the text refers to a volcanic eruption Lachenmann needed to illustrate this theme musically. He made it sound like an eruption of natural sounds with their naked precision on the consciously designed front and a different nature on the back- speculatively and unconsciously so to speak, - their true nature as expression of the longing for transcendence – which Lachenmann declines to further clarify. "I explain everything I am able to explain until I come to a point where words will no longer suffice", he says. It is exactly this precision and the developing process of how the music slowly arises from an abundance of unusual and peculiar noises and figurative sounds that is featured in Uli Aumüller’s film. He follows the musicians of the Chamber Music Ensemble Neue Musik Berlin from the first rehearsal onward until the public performance in Berlin’s Akademie der Künste, and observes them while rehearsing every technical nuance until a level of virtuosity is achieved that causes Helmut Lachenmann to go into raptures.
Aside from this reflection on music and his search for more, we see the co-operation between conductor Peter Rundel, the composer, and the musicians, who go with great enthusiasm and obvious joy beyond the limits of their capabilities. Like having a walk in the park and from time to time one looks with a little more attention to the left or the right.
"I went for a walk with Nono once", Lachenmann says, "We talked about understanding our own being. Suddenly he stopped at a tree with cracked bark and said, ‘have a look at this structure, when you can actually see this, you have understood your sessential being. To notice items that surround us every day, but don't really notice at all. Perception of your own being or your self-awareness. I regard this as the being of music, at least today. Because music reflects on itself and it must see itself somehow as perceptual art. "
Despite the seriousness and commitment to the cause, we also laughed while shooting this film. Perhaps it is this laughter, the returning moments of happiness that clarify Helmut Lachenmann’s music and its meaningful effect, the magnificent ideas and the rich sound better than hour-long interviews and theoretical digressions. The film not only relveals a new look at Helmut Lachenmann’s working method and its limitations – but above all reveals a man who becomes one with music, a playful man craving for new discoveries.

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller (Autor)