Press commentaries: MUSIC FOR SPACES


Fähndrich’s space art takes architectural principles into account. A few years ago, with his installation in the garden of Hannover-Herrenhausen (Germany), the musician followed the rigorous symmetry and the idea of ensemble typical of the baroque period, whereas in the Carolingian Haskenau, he puts the emphasis on the tendency to create individual pieces of art, reflecting the spirit of this epoch. And yet, the ten spots relate to each other through their musical messages, through the sine sounds Fähndrich makes swing, that overlap – and go with the rough Westphalian wind.

For a music connoisseur, the composer creates highly complex patterns. Or expressed in a slightly distorted wood-metaphor: a severe music connoisseur gets only the tough nut to crack in Fähndrich’s composition whereas a simple listener can enjoy it without remorse ...

... One might say that Fähndrich’s composing art consists of dry undergrowth music: here a withered cracking, there a hollow thumping, now a knocking, then a rumbling.

And those sounds, wonderful and soft.

Christian Thomas, Frankfurter Rundschau


Walter Fähndrich's installation "SOUND MOVEMENT ROOM", which can be visited for the last time this coming Sunday, undoubtedly belongs to the most relaxed, unspectacular and stimulating musical events of the year. People do not have to pay for admission or to sit still on their concert seats: everybody composes his own work - strolling. This is how music happens live although and because its ingredients come from speakers attached to trees.

Every day from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, as many "premieres" take place as there are visitors. You can rest in monastic Gregorian music, twined around with clarinets in the spirit of a playful avant-garde; you can listen to the humming of machines, sheltered by a roof of leaves, and think of nature governed by robots like in the film "Silent Running"; you can wander on and consider the names of herbs and wine recommendations recited with sparse instrumentation as a humoristic element or as the main theme. The symmetrical architecture of the baroque garden and the changing concept of the sounds, which only appears to be arbitrary, complement one another perfectly - for Fähndrich's clear, relaxed arrangements hold the islands of this sounding Bermuda square, within hearing from each other, together in an unobtrusive way.

The price of this experience is its transitoriness: when the speakers will be removed next week, "SOUND MOVEMENT ROOM" will cease to exist. Ars brevis? Not necessarily. For we can be sure that New Music has rarely reached and stimulated as many people in as little time as in Herrenhausen this summer. The organizers are to be congratulated. And let us hope that Hannover will make such good choices even more often in the future.

Volker Hagedorn, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung


The result is amazing. Small speakers attached to the walls spread music that corresponds to the room itself in an inexplicable yet very exact way: there are long, low tones and higher tones that slide between and over them, changing the sound, building recurring structures that, however, never appear as repetitions but as varying confirmations. During short pauses, noise reaches the room from the street and reminds us of the difference between indoors and outdoors. The sounds do not wander but remain static, gather in or reflect from the corners in various ways.

And since this extremely present, yet fully unobtrusive music has no particular intention, it allows an amazing motion, the motion of its listeners with themselves. This involves the same risks as an intent gaze in the mirror does. Sometimes you just do not want to move, you would rather be diverted, distracted, excited. Then you will leave Walter Fähndrich’s music space, close the door behind you, interchange inside and outside. This is not difficult and may still intensify the perception of oneself. But one or two hours later, you can return and check whether anything has changed.

Hans-Jürgen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau

MUSIC FOR SPACES at Kunsthaus Zug


This sound installation rather challenges and enhances one's hearing sensitivity, so to speak on the "micro-level". Those who perceive the relations between the earpieces breathed on with vocal noise and placed in the corners of the room (the speakers are directed towards the corners and invite the listener to settle), may also be sensitized for more remote atmospheric and acoustic interrelations. And he or she may discover the similar tuning of the bells outside the museum and the viola melody in the the northern wing's cave-like basement.

However, the sound installation also offers something to visitors who are in a hurry. The fact that the openness of the museum's rooms demanded a more complex balancing and interweaving of the acoustic events, which the composer found to be the specific difficulty of this work, turns out to be its very quality. Not only do surprising, confusing and even dramatic moments result from the interaction of the various sound events. The permeability also enables the listener to hear the same thing over large distances and from different perspectives. An aggressive accent from far away may change into a mysterious sound of the universe, and something that resembles the bubble of a falling drop, turns out to be a plucked viola tone. It is not by chance that the installation is the result of a strictly "interdisciplinary" cooperation between the Kunsthaus [Museum of Art] and the Theater- und Musikgesellschaft Zug [Society for Theater and Music of Zug, Switzerland]. For its captivating qualities reside exactly in the fact that it teaches how to listen over and beyond the rooms – over the bell sounds to the jingling of the cafeteria – practically between the lines. A listening experience in puzzling border zones. Just listen into the sophisticated elemental sounds of the corner installations in the southern wing.

Urs Mattenberger, Neue Luzerner Zeitung


The electronic sounds are pulsing slowly in the nave of the former Minorite church in Stein. The long pauses between the darkened sounds are easily associated with the large gaps between the massive columns of the Gothic sacred building. When you enter the crypt, however, restless, organ-like sounds stream towards you – as if you were moving through water. Then again, there seems to be an acoustic dome when one steps between the speakers in the chapter of the church, which diffuse indistinguishable whispers and undulating sounds.

On behalf of the Kunsthalle Krems [Museum of Arts of Krems], the Swiss sound artist Walter Fähndrich created a sound installation that will transform the church of Stein (secularized by the emperor Joseph II) into a sound-producing instrument until July 19. Fähndrich measured the Gothic building exactly in order to compose electronic sounds corresponding to its proportions. Their colors, tempos and pitches as well as the frequency of their occurrence are derived from the mathematical measures of the architecture. And yet, one never gets the impression of a purely formalistic construction, but rather of a very lively connection: the space becomes sound and in doing so, its visual perception is intensified as well.

Fähndrich’s second "music for spaces" is even more spectacular, especially so since the Wunderburggraben castle grounds of Dürnstein form an impressive natural space with, on their western side, the ruins of the castle that King Richard Lionheart made famous. The bizarre crags, with names like Tom Thumb, Mule, Hippopotamus or Lorelei, are made to speak: ten small speakers in the same color as the granite are put up in the Wachau Valley and start to sound every day exactly at the time of the astronomical sunset – the singer Blondel has received an electronic lyre.

The unusual project is scheduled to run through December. But the inhabitants of Dürnstein need not worry. Fähndrich, who is internationally known for his space-specific, subtly-tuned sound-space installations as well as for his improvisational work on the viola, does not want to drown the little town in loud electronic sounds. The speakers, hardly visible from a distance, diffuse very soft sine sounds that correspond to the twilight. Computer-controlled overlappings create a multi-dimensional spatial weave of sounds which varies every day and also changes for the listeners depending on their position. For fifteen minutes, the natural background noise of the dusk mixes with this fine electronic sound network whose junctions you can explore by wandering around – the natural space becomes a plastic sound sculpture.

Reinhard Kager, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung