Torsten Rasch

Torsten Rasch was born in Dresden in 1965 and began piano lessons at the age of six. From 1974-82 he was a member of the renowned Dresdner Kreuzchor and subsequently went on to study composition and piano at the Carl Maria von Weber University in Dresden. In 1990 he emigrated to Japan and established himself as a successful composer of film and TV scores, completing over 40 to date. Following an orchestral commission in 1999 from the Dresdner Sinfoniker (Völuspa-Der Seherin Gesicht for narrator and orchestra), Rasch was approached once again by the orchestra in 2002 for a commissioned song-cycle based on music and lyrics by the German industrial metal band Rammstein.

DG recorded and released the disc of the resultant 65-minute cycle Mein Herz brennt with bass René Pape, voice Katharina Thalbach and the Dresden Sinfoniker conducted by John Carewe. This followed premiere performances of the work in Dresden and Berlin in late 2003. In 2004 the disc was released in Japan and the USA, and was awarded Best World Premiere Recording at the Echo Classical Awards in Munich. In March 2006 the work was performed at the Helsinki Musica Nova to great acclaim. Later that same year, Rasch was commissioned by the ICA in London to collaborate with the Pet Shop Boys on a soundtrack for the silent film Battleship Potemkin and a live, screened performance took place in London's Trafalgar Square.

Meanwhile, interest in his music grew in Great Britain when he was taken up by the publisher Faber Music, London. A Piano Trio commissioned by the BBC for the 2006 Cheltenham Festival received highly appreciative reviews. In May 2009 Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO introduced Mein Herz brennt to London, this time with the original cast of Rene Papé and Katharina Thalbach.  In Germany his first opera, Rotter based on a play by East German dissident Thomas Brasch, was commissioned by Köln Opera and received its world premiere in February 2008 in a production directed by Katherina Thalbach. A new short orchestral work, Excantare fruges was premiered in Dresden by the Dresden Sinfoniker under Olari Elts in September that year. In 2012, Raschs’ orchestral showpiece Wouivres was premiered by the Robert Schumann Philharmonie Chemnitz and conductor Frank Beermann, with critics remarking on its colour and bravura: ‘a piece bristling with movement, brilliance and gorgeous sound,’ ‘superlatively suited to show an orchestra in the very best light.’

Further UK performances include two commissions instigated by Andreas Haefliger for the Two Moors Festival – which resulted in a setting of Oskar Kokoschka's poem Die Traumenden Knaben using a 'Pierrot' group of players, and a String Quartet for the Koos Quartet.  These took place in September 2009. In July 2010, Rasch’s ground-breaking second opera The Duchess of Malfi was premiered in London by its commissioners English National Opera and the experimental theatre group Punchdrunk. The performances sold out within hours, and contributed to ENO’s Audience Developemnt award from the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2011. Rasch’s song cycle Le Serpent Rouge, a BBC commission using a text that inspired Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, was premiered in 2010 in London by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor André de Ridder and soprano Yeree Suh.

2012 sees the premiere of two new works by Rasch. I see Phantoms, a dramatic scene for baritone and cello, will be premiered in July at London’s Wigmore Hall with the baritone Wolfgang Holzmair and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton. In September 2012, Rasch’s Mendelssohn Lieder orchestrations will be performed by Matthias Goerne and Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum in Leipzig.                                      

Source: Faber Music Ltd 2012                                                  

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