World premiere of Der Bilderfresser for piano, accordion, percussions, 18 orchestral groups and mixed choir on 17th February in Cologne. The work, commissioned by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), will be performed by the WDR Sinfonieorchester - WDR Rundfunk Chor and the soloists Marino Formenti, Teodoro Anzellotti together with the Schlagquartett Köln. The conductor will be Emilio Pomarico.
Der Bilderfresser (The devourer of images) was conceived right from the start as a scene in Nieder’s music theatre project entitled Thümmel or the extinction of the word. The action of the whole of this music theatre work revolves around the historically true figure of the Trieste painter Vito von Thümmel (born in Vienna and raised in Trieste), who, as a result of repeated drinking binges, developed a grave form of mental illness. He was eventually committed to Trieste’s huge lunatic asylum, where he spent the last years of his life.
Speaking of the work, Fabio Nieder says The idea of Der Bilderfresser is my own. The vision of the by-now sick painter, in a space emptied of objects, in which the unfamiliar elements of his flickering dreams floating freely around rise up in a plethora of images each one disassociated from the other, provided me with the optical hook for my musical composition. Spellbound, Thümmel, like a child ogling a mass of toys strewn about his playroom, gazes on at this universe of images. Each one of the 18 images, which here, inside this non-space, enjoys a life of its own, has its own special instrumental voice, realised by one of the orchestral groups. And each one, by virtue of this abstract instrumental substance, seems to be a party to eternity - up until the point when the voices of the invisible choir (positioned behind the public, as though a reflection of the orchestral groups) together with that of the pianist Thümmel put their own hand to the work. And at that point the images vanish, one after another, in the blink of an eye! Just as the instrumental groups give life to each image by way of their “voice” without words, so too the childlike Thümmel takes form in the shape of an instrumental “voice”. What is involved is a complex entity consisting in a combined piano-accordion-percussion sound: the accordion takes on the sonoric function of the breath, the piano fills in for the skeleton and skull and the percussion serves as a system of verbal joints. The sounds of violins constitute an infusion of vibrations, a kind of atmosphere or air that needs a voice in order for it to be perceived. This sonoric manifestation of Thümmel accompanies the apparition of almost every image.