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Frank Rothkamm [ Zahra Fugues ]
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[Zahra Fugues] Press Release
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Catalog No: FLX12
Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Title: Zahra Fugues
Label: Flux Records
Length: 41:28
Composed: 2008
Release Date: 11/11/2009
Edition Size: 300
File Under: classical

The second release from Frank Rothkamm's epic 3 CD + 1 DVD TETRALOGY series - Zahra Fugues - is the first non electronic, all acoustic release by Rothkamm since his Chamber Ensemble written in 1984.

Within these 26 mini-masterpieces you'll hear composer/pianist Rothkamm's prodigious digits plunder the fugue form as he imaginatively slices/dices and deconstructs/ reconstructs every flourish, sequence, cadence, clich� and rule from Gioseffo Zarlino's classical playbook The Art of Counterpoint. And he pulls this off with a sense of humor worthy of Thelonious Monk and with a sense of drama and energy reminiscent of Glenn Gould.

Frank Rothkamm is the consummate modern composer/performer. As evidenced in Zahra Fugues, one hears a love of, as well as a depth of knowledge of, the rules of the fugue that makes Rothkamm's iconoclastic vision come off so effortlessly. To break rules one must truly understand them. Within Zahra Fugues, Rothkamm consistently shows us how a fugue can seamlessly morph from a short sequence that would easily fit a Victorian-era tea parlor before instantly dropping the listener into a series of Anton Webernian styled intervals that darkly twist, tangle, and turn before quickly giving us an ending flourish played at a speed and level of precision that would knock Conlon Nancarrow out of his chair.

Stephen Goldstein

Tracklisting: year opus
[01] New York Zahra Fugue 7 2008 455 1:13
[02] New York Zahra Fugue 1 2008 441 2:18
[03] New York Zahra Fugue 25 2008 473 2:01
[04] New York Zahra Fugue 23 2008 471 2:24
[05] New York Zahra Fugue 18 2008 463 0:39
[06] New York Zahra Fugue 9 2008 464 1:45
[07] New York Zahra Fugue 11 2008 466 1:33
[08] New York Zahra Fugue 16 2008 461 1:30
[09] New York Zahra Fugue 8 (Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser) 2008 456 2:52
[10] New York Zahra Fugue 22 2008 470 1:07
[11] New York Zahra Fugue 2 2008 442 1:20
[12] New York Zahra Fugue 3 2008 444 2:37
[13] New York Zahra Fugue 10 2008 465 2:14
[14] New York Zahra Fugue 24 2008 472 1:44
[15] New York Zahra Fugue 19 2008 467 1:20
[16] New York Zahra Fugue 14 2008 459 1:10
[17] New York Zahra Fugue 15 (Pater Noster) 2008 460 2:20
[18] New York Zahra Fugue 12 2008 457 1:34
[19] New York Zahra Fugue 17 (Smoke on the Water) 2008 462 1:29
[20] New York Zahra Fugue 6 2008 448 0:50
[21] New York Zahra Fugue 5 2008 447 1:20
[22] New York Zahra Fugue 4 2008 445 0:51
[23] New York Zahra Fugue 21 2008 469 1:27
[24] New York Zahra Fugue 13 2008 458 2:15
[25] New York Zahra Fugue 20 2008 468 0:56
[26] New York Zahra Fugue 26 2008 474 0:39


A rare acoustic release from the never less than impressive Rothkamm: 26 short and various fugues played on a Steinway grand, recorded with a specially configured dummy head and voiced not simultaneously but through the superposition of free-standing parts: ' the 4 voices' tempi micro-fluctuate around linear time and macro-oscillate stylistically through the centuries around historical time'.... Nice idea, nicely expressed. Frank's consistently high standard, precision of exploration and variety of media are prodigious, and begin to demand consideration as an oeuvre. As always, there's also a well designed package and excellent liner notes.
Chris Culter RER

ROTHKAMM Zahra Fugues (Flux Records, FLX12): The second part of Frank Rothkamms "Tetralogy" -- the first part "Ghost of New York" was already mentioned in BA64 -- is, as usual, a pleasure even if considered only philosophically. Some of it is difficult to understand, some of it is hard to believe, and sometimes it helps to just laugh. Kant is quoted again, Leibniz's monad is referenced, and Plato's anamnesis is mentioned (Idea View as Memory). He uses his "Platonic" recording technique, or the "Platonic art head": Three microphones positioned in a perfect triangle. What is truly remarkable is that this is Rothkamm's first non-electronic music in over 25 years. It is pure piano music, the fugues are played purely from memory (anamnestic) and came to him like flying birds. Well, the windows were open (during recording) as one hears the Upper East Side outside. I hereby quote -- wishing to say nothing wrong -- Rothkamm's description of his Fugue Principle: "The fugues, for 4 independent monophonic voices realized by an 8-armed pianist, fly around the very definition of a fugue through the baroque concept of pure ornamentation vs. cantus firmus (fixed song). Independent from each other, like Leibniz' monads, the 4 voices' tempi micro-fluctuate around linear time and macro-oscillate stylistically through the centuries around historical time." The fugues, 26 in number, Op. 441-474, are each like the short flights of birds, like memory and know-how and take similar liberties like Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations. This is especially true in regard to anachronisms: the master of the fugue, Bach, becomes a contemporary of Haydn (Op. 456), Deep Purple (Op. 462), and again Nancarrow. All this is as virtuosic as it is bird-y, a bird of paradise even, while at the same time so smart that I forget my aversion towards baroque fugue magic. This is someone who could say that music lies down at his feet and eats out of his hand. [BA 65 rbd]

-- original German --

ROTHKAMM Zahra Fugues (Flux Records, FLX12): Der zweite Teil von  Frank Rothkamms "Tetralogy" - vom Auftakt Ghost of New York war in BA  64 schon die Rede - ist, wie gewohnt, allein schon philosophisch  betrachtet ein Vergnügen. Vieles übersteigt den Verstand, manches ist  kaum zu glauben, manchmal hilft nur Lachen. Wieder wird Kant zitiert,  die Leipnizsche Monade bemüht und Platons Anamnesis (Ideenschau als  Erinnerung). "Platonisch" ist auch das Aufnahmeverfahren des  "Platonischen Kunstkopfs" über drei Mikrophone in perfekter  Dreiecksposition. Bemerkenswert ist aber nicht zuletzt, dass hier  Rothkamms erste nicht-elektronische Musik seit 25 Jahren vorliegt. Es  ist pure Pianomusik, rein aus dem Gedächtnis (anamnetisch) gespielte  Fugen, die ihm zuflogen wie Vögel. Das Fenster steht ja auch offen,  man hört die Upper East Side draußen. Ich zitiere, um nichts Falsches  zu sagen, Rothkamms Beschreibung seines Fugenprinzips: The fugues,  for 4 independent monophonic voices realized by an 8-armed pianist,  fly around the very definition of a fugue through the baroque concept  of pure ornamentation vs. cantus firmus. Independent from each other,  like Leipniz" monads, the 4 voices" tempi micro-fluctuate around  linear time and macro-oscillate stylistically through the centuries  around historical time. Die Fugen, 26 an der Zahl, Op. 441-474,  allesamt nur kurze Flüge der Vögel der Erinnerung und des Knowhows,  nehmen sich also mindestens die Freiheiten, die Glenn Gould sich mit  den Goldberg Variationen erlaubte. Speziell was Anachronismen angeht.  Der Fugenmeister Bach wird zu einem Zeitgenossen von Haydn (op. 456),  Deep Purple (op. 462), immer wieder Nancarrow. Das ist so virtuos wie  vogelig, paradiesvogelig sogar und dabei so pfiffig, dass ich meine  Aversion gegen barocken Fugenzauber vergesse. Da ist einer, der von  sich sagen könnte, dass die Musik sich niedersetzt auf seinen Fuß und ihm aus der Hand frisst. [BA 65 rbd]
Rigobert Dittmann BAD ALCHEMY

In the (only physically) single-sided CD booklet can be read the history of the eponym of the CD of "Zahra". On the Upper East Side of New York is in the 5th Floor of a house in Zahras apartment, a Steinway & Sons Model M Grand Piano. Built in 1934, was the instrument is now fully restored. Frank Rothkamm issue in addition that an out how and when he first met Zahra, discovered as the instrument and let it inspire you.
The program included on the CD includes 26 tracks, which, Zahra joints', recorded as Opus 441 - 474 of his oeuvre. The joints are in a different order on the CD are numbered as they, the flow of the music is even, brash and dynamic, all artistically musical depth and dearly-and playfulness, whether it would be in the order of their numbers, I did not tested.
Frank Rothkamm settled in composition and recording of Gioseffo Zarlino "The Art of Counterpoint" was inspired, made to the influence of Thelonious Monk and Glenn Gould. The pieces are purely acoustically recorded, and some sequences have electronic-sounding echoes, which must have been strengthened, as far as they indulge in loud and clear the tone. In addition, some external sounds can be heard, such as a police siren.
At the first hearing and is affected by name, Fugue 'certainly struck me Johann Sebastian Bach in the sense in some pieces, which, Well-Tempered Clavier', less and Erik Satie's Gymnopedie. While their humorous design is an entirely different structure.
Rothkamm shows tremendous game skill, compositional skill, humor, talent, quality, expressing melancholy depth to intone a lively complex notes and virtuosic detour to direct.
Track 9 has the subtitle: "God save Francis the Emperor". Whether it be the last of which the Holy Roman Empire or, I suspect this is bad guessing this Fußballtyp or one of the many others is meant that the German rulers were times, me not going. The play, however, is a free, lyrical improvisation on the old imperial anthem by Joseph Haydn, is made from which the German national anthem, a setting of the song, Germany from August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. The 17th Each is "Pater Noster" subtitled, presumably playfully. Whether in the house where Zahras apartment is available to work a rosary, or whether this was just another inspiration is another matter. The theme is dreamily thoughtful and yet the expression of light comedy, as artistically successful expression of sheer knowledge of the function of the Paternoster, the elevator. Or else, completely different direction in order that, 'Our Father' meant?
The 19th Track is probably the most unusual version of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water". Anyone who hears the album clueless and the booklet does not have to hand, may hinweghören about it or have simply a brief smile in the corner of his mouth before the issue is plucked. And 20 Track is survived furious afterwards.
The conceptual constraints of the compositions is impressive to see how the illustrious sound of the instrument. A slight weakness lies in the sound of the tones, the space was included in that which gives the recording dark depths and sublime privacy.
The CD is 41:49 minutes long, has no character and spirit in style is completely out of line. Conservative classics, it still is today with open ears and minds are on the small jazz and popular influences, be amazed. Anyone who loves entertaining, or ambient sounds, may well be the "Zahra addressed Fugues" and will find inner peace and Musikneugierde.
Quite simply, demand and expectation is uncoupled, the pure music simply terrific surprise. In their diversity and scope, virtuosity and carefreeness the 26 small fugues are a big piece of music.

-- original German --

Im (nur physisch) einseitigen Booklet zur CD ist die Geschichte der Namensgeberin der CD nachzulesen, die von "Zahra". An der Upper East Side New Yorks steht im 5. Stock eines Hauses, in Zahras Appartement, ein Steinway & Sons Model M Grand Piano. 1934 gebaut, wurde das Instrument inzwischen vollständig restauriert. Frank Rothkamm geht im Weiteren darauf ein, wie und wann er das erste Mal Zahra traf, wie der das Instrument entdeckte und sich davon inspirieren ließ.
Das auf der CD enthaltene Programm umfasst 26 Tracks, die ‚Zahra Fugen', als Opus 441 - 474 seines Œuvre festgehalten. Die Fugen sind in anderer Reihenfolge auf der CD, als sie nummeriert sind, der Fluss der Musik ist gleichmäßig, forsch und dynamisch, in aller künstlerisch musikalischen Tiefe und Innig- sowie Verspieltheit, ob sie es in der Folge ihrer Nummerierung wären, habe ich nicht getestet.
Frank Rothkamm ließ sich in Komposition und Einspielung von Gioseffo Zarlinos "The Art of Counterpoint" inspirieren, ließ Einflüsse von Thelonious Monk und Glenn Gould zu. Die Stücke sind rein akustisch eingespielt, manche Sequenz hat elektronisch klingende Echos, die verstärkt worden sein müssen, so weit, wie sie klar und deutlich dem Ton nachhängen. Zudem sind einige äußere Klänge zu hören, wie etwa eine Polizeisirene.
Beim ersten Hören, beeinflusst vom Namen ‚Fuge' gewiss, kam mir Johann Sebastian Bach in den Sinn, in einigen Stücken, dessen ‚Wohltemperiertes Klavier', weniger, aber auch Erik Saties Gymnopedien. Obschon deren humoristischer Aufbau ganz anderer Struktur ist.
Rothkamm beweist enorme Spielfertigkeit, kompositorisches Geschick, humoristisches Talent, die Qualität, melancholische Tiefe auszudrücken, komplexe Noten lebhaft zu intonieren und virtuose Schlenker zu inszenieren.
Track 9 hat den Untertitel "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser". Ob damit der Letzte derer des Heiligen Römischen Reiches oder der, mir schwant dies böses ahnend, dieser Fußballtyp oder einer der vielen anderen gemeint ist, die mal deutsche Herrscher waren, geht mir nicht ein. Das Stück indes ist eine freie, lyrische Improvisation zum Thema der früheren Kaiserhymne von Joseph Haydn, woraus die deutsche Nationalhymne gemacht ist, die Vertonung des Deutschlandliedes von August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. Das 17. Stück ist "Pater Noster" untertitelt, vermutlich spielerisch. Ob in dem Haus, in dem Zahras Appartement zu finden ist, ein Paternoster arbeitet, oder ob dies nur eine weitere Inspiration war, sei dahingestellt. Das Thema ist nachdenklich verträumt und hat doch den Ausdruck leichter Komik, als künstlerisch gelungener Ausdruck der baren Erkenntnis der Funktion des Paternosters, des Aufzugs. Oder aber, ganz andere Richtung, ist damit das ‚Vaterunser' gemeint?
Der 19. Track ist die wohl ungewöhnlichste Variante von Deep Purples "Smoke on the Water". Wer das Album unbedarft hört und das Booklet nicht zu Händen hat, wird vielleicht darüber hinweghören oder schlicht ein kurzes Lächeln im Mundwinkel haben, bevor das Thema gerupft ist. Und vom 20. Track im Anschluss furios überlebt wird.
Die konzeptionelle Knappheit der Kompositionen ist beeindruckend, wie der illustre Klang des Instrumentes. Eine leichte Weichheit liegt im Klang der Töne, der Raum, in dem aufgenommen wurde, gibt der Aufzeichnung dunkle Tiefe und erhabene Privatheit.
Die CD ist 41:49 Minuten lang, hat keinen Zeitgeist-Charakter und fällt stilistisch komplett aus dem Rahmen. Konservative Klassiker, so es die heute noch mit offenen Ohren und Sinnen gibt, werden über die kleinen Jazz- und populären Einflüsse erstaunt sein. Wer ambiente oder unterhaltsame Klänge liebt, kann durchaus von den "Zahra Fugues" angesprochen werden und wird zu innerer Ruhe und Musikneugierde finden.
Ganz einfach: Anspruch und Erwartung abgesattelt, ist die pure Musik schlicht grandiose Überraschung. In ihrer Vielfalt und Klangbreite, Virtuosität und Nonchalance sind die 26 kleinen Fugen ein großes Stück Musik.
Volkmar Mantei RAGGAZZI

Another odd proposition from Frank Rothkamm, the second installment in his Tetralogy series. Zahra Fugues is his first all-acoustic release in a long time (or so he says, should we believe him?). This is a sequence of 26 short pieces for eight-hand piano (all his, thanks to multitracking), all inspired by what he has retained from his studying the fugue. The format is superficially classical, and a lot more schizophrenic when you dig deeper (eclectic influences), or downright strange (the off-time playing in "Zahra Fugue 21", on the border between accidental and intentional). By the style and featured instrument, Zahra Fugues is to be put alongside Opus Spongebobicum, but it's a different beast, one that can be enjoyable and sweet to listen to if you don't know much about classical music, troubling or disturbing if you're well versed in the art of the fugue.

-- original french --

Une autre proposition incongrue de Frank Rothkamm, second volet de sa Tetralogy. Zahra Fugues est son premier disque entièrement acoustique (mais doit-on le prendre au mot?) depuis des lustres. Il s'agit d'une série de 26 courtes pièces pour piano à huit mains, toutes les siennes (par la magie du multipiste), toutes s'inspirant de ce qu'il a retenu de l'art de la fugue. La facture est classique en surface, beaucoup plus schizophrénique en profondeur (influences éclectiques), occasionnallement carrément étrange (le décalement des parties dans "Zahra Fugue 21", à la limite de l'accidentel et de l'intentionnel. Par le style et l'instrument, Zahra Fugues est à rapprocher d'Opus Spongebobicum, mais c'est une autre bête, qui peut être agréable et douce à l'écoute si vous connaissez peu la musique classique, et s'avérer troublante, voire dérangeante, si vous êtes versé dans la fugue.
Francois Couture CFLX

With indefensible delay – as usual, I hear someone muttering – we land in the second chapter of Frank Rothkamm’s Tetralogy series, which meanwhile has arrived at the fourth (stay tuned, I’ll try and catch up soon-ish). Zahra Fugues  – first acoustic release by the German artist in 25 years – is a collection of short pieces played on a Steinway And Sons Model M piano that, according to typically legendary-sounding liners, was lent to the composer by a woman called, guess what, Zahra when he was living in New York alone and without an instrument in a serious case of pianistic cold turkey. These fugues are a blend of organization and emancipation from the necessity dictated by classical configurations, alternating respectful hints to those traditional forms and ironic quotes (“Smoke On The Water”, of all things). As always, Rothkamm doesn’t leave the doors completely open to an authentic understanding of the procedures: the music is in fact rendered by “four independent monophonic voices realized by an 8-armed pianist”, and the accompanying postcard reveals an old IBM ThinkPad laptop on the right of the primary generator (this actually means nothing, but you never know). The execution runs the gamut of moods – from nostalgically peaceful, almost retro one would say, to enthusiastically triumphant, overexcited superimpositions of rolling arpeggios making us think to a half-dozen of cloned Keith Tippett-like gnomes fighting for a spot in the sun. Whatever the man decides to do, we’re there with unlocked ears and – usually – a smile of recognition after the record’s over. This was no exception.

Piano Stainway & Sons Grand Piano Model M-1934, 88 keys Bianconeri of elegance and refined presence. Imagine the living room of an apartment in New York and you have the image of the location where born the twenty-six tracks of "Zahra Fugues." Zahra is a friend of Frank Rothkamm when, when we arrived from Germany in the Big Apple, he finds himself alone, without any tool (even a tiny keyboard analog) but with so many notes in his head looking for a score exist. And she offers her Stainway the fifth floor of an apartment in New York. A story like so many classic belonging to the universe: from Handel to Mozart, from Rossini to Schubert, the music almost always 'classical' is written on the staff as in the legends of the ages, and behind this little piece of friendship are formed scores Frank, included in tetralogy of which we have already offered the first chapter. Then drain the piano as the central theme, and Rothkamm is inspired by the eighteenth century through the contemporary baroque virtuosity in a timeless concept, including quick 'touch', dance rhythms, frenetic anarchy. Relive the early days when Bach or Patchebel, like Haydn or Mozart sonatas by filling their finery: exemplary in this sense, "Zahra Fugue 23" or, conversely, the executions in contemporary style with Glenn Gould, but also with Rachmaninov . Elegant then the "Zahra Fugue 25" or "Zahra Fugue 9", more convoluted and difficult to implement - but in the enviable technique - "Zahra Fugue 16" or "Zahra Fugue 12". Beautiful artwork on the cover, in which a geisha playing the piano taking up the colors and shapes of ancient Japanese prints, Renaissance or images on the floppy itself: a very good development graphic Rothkamm Frank, which grows along with its small Flux Records . If the two works which we have described the sounds in the recent past there had been absolutely convinced some choices of electronics at times chaotic, in this work entirely acoustic genius of the Germanic Rothkamm winning smiles with the forty minutes, and the thousand notes executed the plan. Not if it takes the occasional music 'classical' bully comes from our pages is that thin thread that binds 'our' sounds of today with their illustrious origins, and that we first want to make steel that does not break a bond sometimes so tenuous.

-- original Italien --

Un pianoforte Stainway & Sons modello M-Gran Piano del 1934, 88 tasti bianconeri di eleganza e raffinata presenza. Immaginatelo nel salone di un appartamento a New York ed avrete l'immagine della location in cui nascono le ventisei tracce di "Zahra Fugues". Zahra è amica di Frank Rothkamm quando, nel momento in cui dalla Germania il Nostro arriva nella Grande Mela, si trova solo, senza alcuno strumento (anche solo una minuta tastiera analogica) ma con tante note in testa che cercano uno spartito per esistere. E lei gli offre il suo Stainway al quinto piano di un appartamento newyorkese. Una storia come tante appartenenti all'universo classico: da Haendel a Mozart, da Rossini a Schubert, quasi sempre la musica 'colta' è scritta nel pentagramma come nei racconti leggendari delle epoche, e dietro questo piccolo frammento di amicizia si formano le partiture di Frank, inserite nella tetralogia di cui vi abbiamo già offerto il primo capitolo. Quindi la fuga pianistica come tema centrale, e Rothkamm si ispira al barocco settecentesco fino al contemporaneo virtuosismo in un concept senza tempo, tra veloci 'toccate', ritmi di danza, anarchie frenetiche. Rivivono gli albori in cui Bach o Patchebel, come Haydn o Mozart, riempivano le loro sonate di fronzoli: esemplare in tal senso la "Zahra Fugue 23" oppure, all'opposto, le contemporanee esecuzioni in stile con Glenn Gould, ma anche con Rachmaninov. Eleganti allora la "Zahra Fugue 25" o la "Zahra Fugue 9", più contorte e di difficile esecuzione - ma invidiabili nella tecnica - la "Zahra Fugue 16" o la "Zahra Fugue 12". Bellissimo l'artwork di copertina, in cui una geisha suona il piano riprendendo i colori e le forme delle antiche stampe nipponiche, o le immagini rinascimentali del dischetto stesso: un'ottima evoluzione grafica di Frank Rothkamm, che cresce insieme alla sua piccola Flux Records. Se nei due lavori di cui vi abbiamo illustrato i suoni nel passato recente non ci avevano del tutto convinto alcune scelte di elettronica a volte caotica, in quest'opera totalmente acustica il germanico genio di Rothkamm ci sorride conquistandoci con i quaranta minuti e le mille note eseguite al piano. Non ce ne vogliate se saltuariamente la musica 'colta' entra prepotente tra le nostre pagine: è quel sottile filo che lega le 'nostre' sonorità odierne alle loro illustri origini, e che noi per primi vogliamo rendere acciaio affinché non si spezzi un legame a volte così labile.
Nicola Tenani DARKROOM

Short modern classical piano pieces with pianist overdubbing multiple melodic lines ("4 voices played by 8 hands" say the liner notes). Lightly played but dense with notes, the voices often heaped right on top of each other, sometimes with independent tempi, but not noisy or atonal. Feels improvised, sometimes formless and meandering, at its best there's some really interesting, complex textures and beautiful chords. If you like the sound of a lot of independent parts working in tandem, this is worth a listen.
No FCCs. Try 5, 16, 25.
1. 3/4 time, minor key, meanders a bit. 2. Starts as a traditional Bach-like fugue getting crazier and more dissonant with lots of trills
3. Still & quiet 4. Cheerful major-key theme, getting denser with interesting knots of very close voices, then plays with trembling chime-like harmonies. 5. * Intricate texture from close voices playing rapid arpeggios, with little knots in the clouds. 40 seconds only. 6. Simple 3-note theme. Backward-masked piano notes. 7. Simple folksy theme gets more dissonant and forboding before exploding in arpeggios. 8. Elegant tango-ish feel (but free rhythm) with rolled major-7th chords. 9. White key voices tumbling together with independent tempi. 10. Single major mode, regular pulse but jumbled voices. 11. Lone voice picks its way through periodic rolled chords. 12. Steady march-like pulse confused by voices wandering off somewhere. 13. Lots of space, tinkling high notes, white keys. 14. Starts to congeal into a beautiful Beethoven-esque melody, before dissolving into fluff. 15. Chromatic themes, mysterious like a restless dream. 16. * Compact and elegant, steady pulse, nice harmonies criss-crossing. 17. Slow and pensive, minor-key chord progressions. Distant sirens caught by microphone? 18. Steady pitter-patter rhythm with lots of knots and tangles in it. 19. Slower, minor-key, halting rhythm, melodies verging on jazzy. 20. Major key rain and wind-in-leaves sounds. 21. Dark, slow, and dissonant. 22. Rhythm made out of little whirlwinds. 23. Perky white-key march. 24. Slower, pensive, minor-key, rather pretty. 25. * Voices scampering up and down the keyboard getting more and more tangled with each other. 26. Finale of quiet tangled major-key arpeggios. "That's all, folks."
Mason KZSU

Part two of the epic, numerology-inspired Tetralogy series, Zahra Fugues is Rothkamm's first all-acoustic release since his Chamber Ensemble, which dates back to 1984.

These 26 individual pieces, all in the fugue form, are the results of the composer's experiments with the Steinway Model M grand piano that resides in Zahra's apartment in Manhattan.

Rothkamm demonstrates that he knows his way around a piano, crafting his counterpoint-fuelled missives as effortlessly as most people walk down the street.

His inspired pieces stretch the limits of the fugue, combining the classical form with a modern panache that transcends structure. A pianist's wet dream, Zahra Fugues is by all means gorgeous, and not at all weighed down by the intellectual nature of the theory that surrounds it.
Bryon Hayes EXCLAIM!

Rothkamm is nuts, and these are his third and fourth disc that we have in our hands within two months, and are completely different from each other.

The first contains 26 short fugues carried out on a '34 Steinway piano kindly provided by this Zahra, who also lends his man, these are just flights of classical music performed in pairs "in the exact Baroque conception of 'pure ornament' in compliance of the cantus firmus, the song of a fixed structure. Trivialized and the ancestors of improvisation: O tempora.

"ALT" contains just sounds instead, of analog computers built on/for algorithms: Saying "ambient", to understand, with inspiration from vacuum-driven in the dark cosmic darker pictures or trends-tension classical and opera (!) or the edge of music video game.

The nice thing however is that both discs are done well and work: rating of (7) to both, and estimates for increasing an "outsider" of this sort.
s.i.b. BLOW UP

The fugue is a music form in which the counterpoint and a varied repetition play a main part, well, or along those lines. I never got beyond playing a chord on the piano, but Rothkamm knows his ways with the 88 keys. 'Zahra Fugues' is the second album in the 'Tetralogy' series and its his first all acoustic release since his 'Chamber Ensemble' in 1984. Just Rothkamm and the piano. Yes, this man is always your man for something weird. I must admit my knowledge of classical music is really limited, even when I recognize the names Rothkamm mentions, such as Glenn Gould, Conlon Nancarrow, Anton Webern and one J.S. Bach (oh no, he's not mentioned), but its too hard for me to say if these fugues are great or absolute bullshit. Like with say video-art or literature (two things that for reasons unknown also make their way into the Vital Weekly HQ) this is a territory where I have not much knowledge. I must say I quite enjoyed this release. Maybe twenty-six of these uptempo piano pieces, although they are short, is a bit too much, its excellent music to wake up with. Not too heavy, not too difficult, but in a good tempo to wake up by. Rothkamm's usual scheme of electronic music is however, perhaps more spend on me.
Frans de Waard VITAL WEEKLY