Michael Vogt


If I remember correctly, the only other time that I heard Michael Vogt's tuba was about fifteen years ago, on a ReR Quarterly LP, performing a piece written by Lutz Glandien. Later there was a CD, Tuba Intim, where Vogt mostly performed works by other composers, which it seems I totally missed. Having no point of reference other than the present CD, I'll say that Argonautika is a good work which definitely deserves a listen.

Electrified tuba(s), effects units, tapes: those are the ingredients of a work whose music always sounds clear, uncluttered. After a while it becomes apparent that at the core of the work is the timbral contrast between the deep, dark tuba and the (digital-sounding) electronic sounds, most of the time high-pitched, at times quite harsh. But it's an opposition that - thanks also to a length that's not so much different from that of an old-age LP - doesn't wear thin. The first track, Hylas, is in a way a good microcosm of the whole work. While track two, Sirenen, would make just as much sense (check the initial theme, and the "tympani" at the end) when performed by an orchestra. Which in a way is perfectly logical, Michael Vogt being lead tuba with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.

Toccata is the only track that left me cold - though it doesn't sound like Kraftwerk, somewhat it reminded me of them, and those percussive sounds and the use of the vocoder left me definitely unimpressed. Tombeau has a beautiful theme and makes nice use of synthetic sounds (echoes of drum 'n' bass?), Mopsos' Ende offers a nice timbral landscape, and the final track, Schlafend Erreicht Odysseus Ithaka, with its wise use of long reverbs, is quite suggestive.

My only personal reservation - but it's a thing that happens quite frequently, and not at all peculiar to this CD - is the total lack of liner notes (nor we have any diagrams and the like) about the signal path, the effects used, etc. All things that would have been a lot more useful than having the same picture printed three times. The music is quite intelligent, subtle, and not at all difficult. It could easily be filed under "modern classical", but it would be the kiss of death. So I'll call it "contemporary electronic", and hope for the best.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005

CloudsandClocks.net | March 1, 2005