"Überzeichnungen III"

Ensemble Looptail im Abschlusskonzert der Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014

Benjamin Scheuer rewriting himself

For Benjamin Scheuer, the message his music embodies is more important than the mathematical form. That's not to say that his music doesn't have a strong conception of form, but the musicians are allowed their freedom within it. In the room of his oeuvre, one corner is devoted to Überzeichnungen, or the ‘re-writing’ of other music. In that corner, a pile of solo works and chamber music for live-instruments and tape steadily accumulates. That last – tape – is an important aspect. ‘Musicians converse with pre-recorded soundfiles in which they often play the same piece in an older version’, Scheuer explains. ‘The pieces were composed in several steps, in each of which the preceding stage was overwritten with new material.’ He builds his Überzeichnungen III up in layers, like a cake, in which 'the former layer still shimmers through the music'; he takes fragments from earlier movements from the same series and drapes new music over them.
‘We are able to listen to different stages of the development of the same material at the same time. Sometimes we hear an idea still in its first raw shape and at other times the sections of the music are a result of multiple layering and filtration.’
The reflections on earlier work can be seen in a brief quote from Scheuer's piano trio Werkstatt, which had its premier on 25 January 2012 in Hamburg, played by the Saguaro Trio. [...]
In reference books of 'Wichtige Wörter', 'Überzeichnungen' is assigned a range of meanings, including 'the exaggeration which is typical of the caricature'. Scheuer correctly identifies that element of caricature as a regularly returning aspect of his work. The musicians imitate the sound of a humming top in Überzeichnungen III and use 'the harmonic characteristics and timbre as the basis for new material', as he explains. A constantly developing organic structure is the result, in which the sound of the humming top, so illustrious here in the Netherlands, marks beginning and end of each cycle. Hence the subtitle 'Circles'.

[Autor: © Huib Ramaer, translation Eileen Stevens (Keyboard Translations)]