The ultimate crossover...

MEIN HERZ BRENNT

("My heart burns")

a song cycle
based on
the lyrics and music of
RAMMSTEIN
RENE PAPE, KATHARINA THALBACH, JOHN CAREWE & the DRESDEN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA







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A DGG-Universal / FANFAIRE GIVEAWAY
MEIN HERZ BRENNT
Released February 10, 2004 - Deutsche Gramophon #B9001941-D2


Heavy metal/industrial/techno/hard ROCK becomes LIEDER/SYMPHONIC MUSIC

If you're like us and most classical music lovers, until this album you've probably never heard of Rammstein because, simply put, many of us don't rock! So...

Q. Who (or what) is Rammstein?

A. It is an East German rock band (of the industrial/ techno heavy metal variety) named after the city of Ramstein where a crash during a US military air show killed dozens of spectators in 1988. The band, a sextet of ex-factory proles from East Berlin, burst into the rock scene following the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, taking teen-Europe by storm in the mid-1990s and selling millions of CDs thereafter. Their trademarks: incendiary theatrics (spectacular pyrotechnics is a staple of their stage acts), earsplitting sound, and grim, at times disturbingly lurid lyrics that tell of violence, depravity, abuse, alienation and despair - sung in throaty, baritone, sometimes snarling semi-spoken German. They claim their show is but the artistic expression of the frustrations engendered by repressive, totalitarian systems; and they plead that it is within this context that the message of their music should be heard. In 1999, the group gained notoriety in America when it was learned that one of the young gunmen at the Columbine High School massacre listened to and, by inference, was influenced by Rammstein's music.

Q. But did not the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, comprised of some of Europe's most serious musicians, play with fire, so to speak, in adopting Rammstein's music?

A. They most definitely did and it was worth the risk. The result is an amazingly provocative and powerful piece of work, probably the first of its kind, that musically elevates Rammstein to a place where shock-rock and ephemeral, self-combusting stage antics could never take them.

Sven Helbig, percussionist and co-founder of the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, who developed the concept on which this album was based must be applauded for recognizing that beneath the surface of Rammstein's controversial pieces is a mother lode for a song-cycle that could be moving as the works of the genre's post-Romantic masters. Thus Mein Herz brennt, the millennium's first song-cycle, emerged - through a process of musical alchemy: the transmutation, by the purifying fires of the musical imagination, of heavy metal to awesome, noble sound - brought to life by the inspired talent of composer Torsten Rasch, the impassioned bass of rising opera star René Pape, the gripping recitations of actress Katharina Thalbach (The Tin Drum), and the outstanding performance of the Dresden Symphony Orchestra masterfully directed by John Carewe.

Subjected to the disciplined symphonic techniques of the classical masters, Rammstein's electro-pulsating riffs and rhythyms become music of pathos and power; and their songs of rage and despair, of pain and longing in becoming Lieder (German art songs), acquire a new depth. René Pape's "Mutter!", for example, a veritable primal scream, is a young man's genuinely heart-rending cry for help from "the mother who never gave birth to me."

Click on the links below to hear excerpts - and listen to the transformation. (Windows Media Player required.) You're bound to hear strains reminiscent (but not deliberately imitative) of Mahler and Strauss, of Berg and Schönberg; and why not - these masters of the last century must have been important influences on composer Rasch who, in having vividly captured the inner turmoils of today's generation, has breathed new life into the genre of the classical song-cycle known to us as Lieder. And in commissioning and performing Mein Herz brennt, the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, devoted wholly to contemporary music, may have helped resolve the dialectical tension and bridge the generation gap between hard rock and classical music. This breakthrough CD could light a fire in the hearts of people of all ages. It deserves to be heard.

MUTTER
("Mother")
Track 1
SEHNSUCHT
("Longing")
Track 4
MEIN HERZ BRENNT
("My heart burns")
Track 5
ICH WILL
("I want")
Track 7
ALTER MANN
("Old Man")
Track 8
Lieder Lieder Lieder Lieder Lieder
Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock

Notes: (1) The original Rammstein renditions of "Mutter," "Mein Herz brennt" and "Ich will" are in the album Mutter; "Sehnsucht" and "Alter Mann" are from the album Sehnsucht. (2) The original German lyrics and the English translations, which unfortunately were not included in the CD booklet, can be found in http://www.rammsteinsite.com.

-
©GJC / FanFaire 2004
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