A Foreign Field
‘…full of chromatic harmonies slithering downwards like a world subsiding into chaos, and orchestral interludes that fiercely evoke the screaming shells and ear-shattering artillery as well as (in a magnificently moving, Berg-like ending) the heroism and sacrifice of the millions who died… the best movement is also the simplest: a superbly crafted, unaccompanied choral setting of Psalm 91.’
The Times (Richard Morrison), 4 August 2014
'One of the finest, most worthwhile premieres I have heard in many years… a gripping melding of frontline verismo, the tearing-apart of lovers, and desperately-needed compassion… '
The Birmingham Post (Christopher Morley), 4 August 2014
‘The musical score was as many-layered as the text. Washes of glittery metal percussion, creating an otherwordly atmosphere, sat cheek-by-jowl with a densely expressive texture... '
The Telegraph (Ivan Hewett), 1 August 2014
‘Rasch's elegant simplicity and directness of expression put the words in sculpted relief, initially lulling the listener into a sense of security. This was soon dispelled when the dark night of which Housman warns reached a sudden peak in Lewis's lines: "And Death the wild beast is uncaught, untamed." This setting, from Postscript: for Gweno, had a startling potency.The frisson which came at the end of the cycle, with the gentle anguish of Housman's line "And we were young", was all the stronger for being an echo of Richard Sisson's setting of the same poem, How Dead We Lie, in the opening cycle So Heavy Hangs the Sky.
The Guardian (Rian Evans), 1 August 2013
The Duchess of Malfi
‘Sold out within six hours,"The Duchess of Malfi"-co-produced by site-specific company Punchdrunk Theatre and the ENO-is a gargantuan riposte to the traditional opera scene.(...)Sight, sound and smell combine to staggering effect as spectators wander through an office building, choosing which characters to follow. Their reward is a scenic tour, peppered with such hallucinogenic highlights as a forest of wire trees and naked figures in the dark. The lack of linearity heightens the atmosphere of John Webster’s macabre play. Meanwhile, Torsten Rasch’s opulent score ekes out the tension, particularly in the grand finale. It is impressively handled by contralto Claudia Huckle, counter-tenor Andrew Watts and the orchestra of the ENO. Fantastic in the most literal sense: if there were ever a candidate for a six-star review, this would surely be it.
Timeout (Hannah Nepil), 21 July 2010
‘As anyone who knows his thrilling orchestral song-cycle Mein Herz brennt will know, this man writes most beautifully for both voice and orchestra.’
The Independent (Edward Seckerson), July 2010
‘The music is by Torsten Rasch, whose assertive and forthright material harbors an edge of darkness… it was a fascinating new experience, beautifully performed, and another feather in the cap for ENO’s John Berry in his quest to extend boundaries.’
Musical America (Keith Clarke), 16 July 2010
‘…the collaboration between a forward-looking and open-minded English National Opera, a theatre group like Punchdrunk and the soundworld of the German composer of The Duchess of Malfi, proved to be an experience of another kind: unforgettable and unique.’
Die Welt (translated), 31 July 2010
‘The stage is seethes with true-to-life images… a music of emotional depth and a sumptuousness of sound-colours… The music is not just illustrative, but pushes forward and gives impetus. One is spared the deliberation of whether the 'new' is also beautiful. This music is stunning! The pace is aligned to the narrative flow of the stage… Ferdinand has crackpot jumps which mirror the emotional world of his existence… The dark-expressive music is the order of the day for conductor Frank Beermann and the Robert Schumann Philharnonie...’
Freie Presse (Marianne Schultz), 25 March 2013
‘The music of this fascinating score by Torsten Rasch pushed dramatically forward, never decorative or just ‘padding’. Combined with the stage production, the result was a cumulative treat of art… 12 minutes of roaring applause after the last curtain was well deserved.’
Das Opernglas (G.Helbig), May Edition
‘Visually you get your money's worth. Aurally too with Torsten Rasch's music, whose spatial dimensions extend an invitation for intensive listening from the very beginning. Despite the blatant action, Rasch does without blatant music; with him ‘doom’ grows out of silence, sallow passages for woodwinds, and spongy surfaces of brass. Although there is no traditional opera tunefulness (a fine-spun network of chamber music-like characteristics of instruments is attributed to the characters on stage), sweeping opulence breaks out in a ludicrous ball scene. And here, as in the more restrained atonal passages of characterization of wolves in human skin, the Robert Schumann Philharmonie provided strong moments.’
Dresdner Neue Nachrichten (Boris Michael Gruhl), 3 April 2013
(...)The composer of a premiered piece and a popular pianist-they were duly celebrated.(...)
„Wouivres“are beyond doubt modern music,but they are not of the „un-listenable“,“unbearable“kind.No,they are not overcharged with sound-construction and they don’t overstrain the listener with confusion of sound.A nearly incessant stream,carrying only a few motifs,but always tinged anew resulting in a varied sound.Rasch has orchestrated very colourful, (...)
Like an inebriation when the whole apparatus of the almost 100- piece orchestra rose up,then again a breeze if (...)a sequence dissolved into single voices and is taken up again,almost soloistic by woods,brass or strings,percussion setting accents until finally everything comes together again.
It was beautiful,just beautiful,a concert that will not evaporate quickly,the more so since presumably it crosses no ones mind that the Chemnitz orchestra served as a kind of „substitute- Beatles“for a premiere of the LPO.
Not ‚serving as’ but ‚keeping up’was the task.
If Raschs work will find its way into music history or not is altogether beside the point-at its baptism it was a bravoura-piece for a bravoura-orchestra.(...)
Mein Herz brennt
This extraordinary work has disturbed and excited me more than any new music I’ve encountered for some years... The uniqueness is that Rasch has taken the group’s lyrics and reset them with the full apparatus of late Romantic expression, plus mod-cons learnt from later music...
The Spectator, Robin Holloway
(...)by bringing to London the first UK performance of Torsten Rasch’s Mein Herz brennt, written in 2002, he [Jurowski] scored a bull’s-eye.
The only word that can sum up this piece is “wow”...The music is of the kind that German composers after Mahler and Strauss might have written if Schoenberg had not led them down a dark alley called “Twelve-tone”. Here is a super-romantic tidal wave of sound... The words to Rammstein’s punk/heavy-metal songs work surprisingly well. There is an epic quality that is just right for Rasch’s heightened Wagnerian settings. The LPO glittered with detail, as it rode the tsunami of Rasch’s wildly extravagant orchestral writing.
The Financial Times (Richard Fairman), 3 June 2009
Amid the high emotional energy and dramatic undertow, the music was at its most arresting when the dense textures collapsed into utterances altogether more terse and austere.
The Guardian (Rian Evans), 11 July 2006
He is never afraid to hark back to tonal expressiveness, and his music is often attractive and easy to listen to.
Opera Magazine (Thomas Luys), July 2008