Music Reviews

Torsten Rasch

Mein Herz Brennt

Deutsche Grammophon

Just last week, I was sitting around wondering what happened to all the 12-tone 20th century composers like Schoenberg and Schumann. Had the style disappeared because it was fundamentally unlistenable? Had it merely retreated to the dark caves and remote tunnels of musical theory, waiting the day when it could reappear to rule the musical world? Or was its existence only a bad dream brought on by an ill-advised late night schnitzel? Well, the style has resurfaced on this interesting album by the glorious Deutsche Grammophon. German composer Torsten Rasch and a few of his classically trained friends have taken the works of Rammstein and redone them as a complex, moody tone poem that might pass as an undiscovered Entartete opera or the soundtrack to a Leni Riefenstahl film, either of which may have been lost in the bombing of Dresden.

I’m not familiar enough with Rammstein’s original German lyrics to comment on the accuracy, but I will say the vocal work here is clear and slow enough that a beginning student of the language could follow it easily. Sonically, there are more layers than anything Andrew Lloyd Weber ever wrote, with violins, French horns and minimalist percussion. The music has more than just soul; it has arms, legs, a politcal worldview and a website. There is definitely something for the advanced listener, and fans of “Du Hast” will NOT be pleased. Accompanying the disc is a small booklet with very arty photos of Rasch and his fellow musicians, as well as some truly astonishing text describing the music. You don’t get lyrics, but that’s so Tipper Gore you wouldn’t consider it for art of this level. This is serious stuff, and long discussions in a coffee house will help you get to know it, yourself and the deeper meanings of German musical angst. Weltschmertz, anyone?

Mein Herz Brennt: • Universal Classics:

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