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Rescued Roots of Memory
music for five ensemble groups
Commission of oh ton - Förderung aktueller Musik in der Provinz

ca. 10 Min.
composed and first performance 1995

(1) tenor recorder and bariton saxophon
→ Download pdf 1634 kB

(2) flute and guitar
→ Download pdf 1489 kB

(4) double bass, percussion and piano
(Schl: soprano steeldr., gr. cymb, sheet metal, anvil, tubular wood drum, 2 conga, 2 bongo)
→ Download pdf 2404 kB

(8) bass clarinet, tenorbass trombone, viola and harp
→ Download pdf 2823 kB

(16) picc. trumpet, violin, cello, percussion and accordeon
(Schl.: big dr., tam-tam, plate of steel, 2 tom-tom, darabukka)
→ Download pdf 3475 kB

→ Recording version 8 1995 Oldenburg, oh ton-Ensemble
→ Recording version 23 1995 Oldenburg, oh ton-Ensemble.

The five ensemble groups can be played simultaneously in 31 possible versions alone, with two, three or four groups.
To distinguish the versions the numbers of the groups have to be added and hung on the title.


Since the development of the computer, it has become customary to equate human memory with “storing”. My understanding of memory defies such identification. Memory is the human ability to repress the past, to relate it to the present, and to shape the future through ideas, visions and utopias. This remembrance is the most important element in understanding music - if not at all for our being human. It places us in a physically, emotionally and intellectually determined situation, which subjectively causes the most diverse memories.
Rescued Roots of Memory attempts to musically explore the possibility of shared memory. Eventful variations are developed from a tiny germ cell as common “memory substance”. These are translated into individual patterns for each instrument. The order of the sixteen instruments in five ensemble groups denotes different emotional relationships to the substance. The substance itself is only audible as a subjective interpretation. The “what” is first of all dependent on the “who”. The more instruments are involved in the played version, the more different interpretations of one and the same substance become audible. The rule that a maximum of four of the five composed ensemble groups can play together indicates that the view of the total of subjective memory is never possible, always something is missing. The musical discourse takes place in the gestures of contradiction and confirmation, digression and insistence, argument and distraction. Is there an approximation, a clarification, a distancing?
The last fifth of the piece separates the five instrumental groups existing up to that point, each instrument plays on its own until the end without temporal-rhythmic coordination. At the same time, a substantial order is formed, which makes the structure a common one without cancelling out the individual patterns and their contradictions. The substance of the piece becomes a common memory as each instrument reaches its own unbound subjective view. The preservation of the contradictions, the individual experiences, the doubt and the “but” is perhaps the prerequisite for finding a “we”.


Beforehand Premiere:
1995, October 30th: Kulturetage Oldenburg, oh ton workshop; → oh ton-Ensemble, version 7: (1) → Dörte Nienstedt - rec, → Christoph Hansen - sax, (+ 2) → Anne Horstmann - fl, → Peter Löning - git, (+ 4) → Petar Naydenov - db, → Norbert Krämer - perc, → Christiane Abt - pno

First performance:
1995, November 12th: Altes Gymnasium Oldenburg; oh ton-Ensemble (2x): version 23: (1) Dörte Nienstedt - rec, Christoph Hansen - sax, (+ 2) Anne Horstmann - fl, Peter Löning - git, (+4) Peter Naidenov - db, Norbert Krämer - perc, Christiane Abt - pno,(+ 16) → Didier Petit - tp, → Anna McMichael - vl, → Matthias Lorenz - vc, → Axel Fries - perc, → Margit Kern - Acc; version 8: → Martin Kratzsch - clar, → Roel Smedts - tbn, → Rachel Evans - va, → Eva Pressl - hp

Further performance:
1995, November 15th: Kreishaus Hildesheim; oh ton-Ensemble s.a. (version 25)
1995, November 21st: Berliner Kabarettanstalt; oh ton-Ensemble s.a. (version 7)
1995, November 30st: Kulturzentrum Peter-Friedrich-Ludwig Oldenburg; oh ton-Ensemble s.a. (version 13)
1995, December 1st: Glockenhaus Lüneburg; oh ton-Ensemble s.a. (version 29)
1996, January 27th: Sprengelmuseum Hannover; oh ton-Ensemble s.a. (version 11)
1996, May 22nd: Tonhalle Düsseldorf; → notabu-Ensemble (version 7)
2006, January 6th: Musikhochschule Köln; → Johanna Klein - rec and → Katharina Stashik - sax; (version 1)
2007, June 9th: Limoges, Frankreich; → Juliette Candela - rec and → Julien Bire - sax; (version 1)
2007, June 26th: Conservatoire Versailles, Frankreich; (Rep. of 2007, June 9th)

Recording and Broadcast:
1995, November 12th: (s.a.) version 23 + 8, live recording: Deutschlandfunk Köln
1995, November 20th: broadcasting Deutschlandfunk Köln, version 23 and 8


Nordwest-Zeitung from Nov. 14th, 1995, to the concert on Nov. 12th, 1995

Holes and tumbling stands
World premiere concert of the "oh ton-ensemble"
in the Großes Haus of the Staatstheater

by → Christiane Maaß

Oldenburg. The grandiose climax of their association work was experienced by the active members of “oh ton” at the Staatstheater together with hundreds of listeners. Nobody had expected such a rush to the premiere concert of the “oh ton-ensemble”. (...) Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau's “Rescued Roots of Memory” could be performed in two different variations: on the one hand, in a more sonorous instrumentation of three groups, and on the other hand, in the more intimate sound of two groups.1 The spatial conditions of the Great House could be optimally used for the purpose of composition, to liberate roots from the polyphony of individual perspectives to form a common memory. The positioning of the individual groups on the stage, in the boxes and in the tiers allowed the attention to constantly circle and realign itself. Even in the area of the outermost pianissimo and the noisy, everything remained perfectly audible. (...)

1 Here the critic was wrong, as stated above, the four groups 1, 2, 4, and 16 (12 instruments) were once heard together, the second performance was played by group 8 alone (4 instruments).

Letter to the editor regarding this review:

Nordwest-Zeitung, Dec. 7th, 1995, reader's forum
Devastating for the cause of music

Review of the Oldenburg premiere concert on November 12th.
Interesting and acceptable pieces - “Black Hole” by Beccera-Schmidt in the first place - stood next to the pathetic conceptualism of Schmidt-Mechau, whose tonal results bore no relation to the massive, quashed superstructure: Neither my dismay at the end of the Second World War nor my disgust, shared with the “composer”, at alcohol excesses at any city festivals could be converted into understanding for unplayed music from unplayed instruments. The applause was also not great, but recognizably carried by insiders. Under no circumstances should indifferent reporting encourage a person to continue on this gloomy path. Thus my main concern with this letter is also to encourage a critical examination which, rather than indifferent or submissive reactions to New Music, also gives new impulses back to it. In any case, it would be devastating for the cause of music if such impudent stealing out of a composition commission as in “DIT” by Hespos could stop next to honest work (Xenakis, Becerra-Schmidt). (The applause was minimal, interspersed with booing.)
If there were no criteria for judging the packing and unpacking of instruments, the knocking over of music stands with associated curses, etc., the non-sounding of music (see above) as unacceptable, stale, non-binding posturing, New Music would really be in fatally bad shape.

→ Karl-Ludwig Kramer, Leer