Alongside his music, Richard Wagner himself was also a great total work of art. He is the great stylite of the traditionally educated, he was ingenious, controversial and impressively out of reach. His music overwhelming with complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration and an elaborate use of “leitmotifs”, i.e. musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas, or plot elements. It was staged at the Bayreuth Festspiele and played at various events including those for Ludwig II, Nietzsche and Hitler.
So what happens when all this complexity and history is removed and just a few motifs of his sound cosmos are put into the hands of exceptional improvisers? A small wonder occurs: Clarinettist and saxophonist Lömsch Lehmann, who encountered Wagner in his youth, got bassist Matthias TC Debus and drummer Erwin Ditzner on board. They essentially detoxed this classical musician, turning him into avant-gardist. All of Wagner’s pomp and Valkyrie is released and an untold fragility emerges.