Appearing infrequently live, he mostly concentrated on composing and recording. Among others, he recorded an album with the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra plus soloists (Something There), and several albums of songs using the words of writers as diverse as Samuel Beckett (No Answer), Harold Pinter (Silence), and Edward Gorey (The Hapless Child). Various commissions from and performances with European orchestras followed, including work at Swedish Radio, North and West German Radio, the Lille Opera, and Danish Radio. His 1987 recording, Many Have No Speech, an album of songs in English, German, and French, was based on the poetry of Samuel Beckett, Ernst Meister, and Philippe Soupault. It was written for chamber orchestra, trumpet and guitar soloists, and additionally, for the the singing voices of Rock musicians Jack Bruce, Marianne Faithfull, as well as Robert Wyatt. In 1991 he left the United States and moved to Europe, dividing his time between Copenhagen, Denmark and the South of France. A new orchestral piece was commissioned by the Austrian Donau Festival, and was premièred near Vienna in June 1991 by the Nö.Tonkünstlerorchester, conducted by Michael Gibbs, with Andy Sheppard as soloist.
New compositions were also commissioned by the Danish Radio Big Band and the North German Radio Big Band in Hamburg. During 1992 Mantler recorded a new album, entitled Folly Seeing All This, released by ECM Records in March 1993, which features The Balanescu String Quartet plus other instrumentalists. The album includes new instrumental compositions, and one song: music set to Samuel Beckett's last work, written shortly before his death in 1989, the poem "What Is the Word", featuring the voice of Jack Bruce. In 1993 he formed the Chamber Music and Songs ensemble, featuring his trumpet plus Mona Larsen (voice), Bjarne Roupé (guitar), Kim Kristensen (keyboards), and a string quartet consisting of Marianne Sørensen (violin), Mette Winther (viola), Gunnar Lychou (viola), and Helle Sørensen (cello). Its premiere took place at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse in September, followed by a studio production at Denmark Radio. Cerco un Paese Innocente, a "Suite of Songs and Interludes for Voice, Untypical Big Band, and Chamber Ensemble", with words by the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, had its premiere in concert at Denmark Radio in January 1994. Featured were the voice of Mona Larsen, Mantler's ensemble, and the Danish Radio Big Band, conducted by Ole Kock Hansen.
The work was subsequently recorded in the studio and released by ECM Records in 1995. The School of Understanding ("sort-of-an-opera") had its première in August 1996 at Arken, the new Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen. Participants included singers Jack Bruce, Mona Larsen, Susi Hyldgaard, John Greaves, Don Preston, Karen Mantler, Per Jørgensen, and Robert Wyatt. The recording was released as a double-CD by ECM Records in November 1997, followed by a new live production at the Hebbel Theater in Berlin. His One Symphony, commissioned by the Hessischer Rundfunk, was premiered in November 1998 by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, conducted by Peter Rundel. The recording of the work was released in February 2000, together with previously recorded material featuring Mona Larsen and the Chamber Music and Songs ensemble interpreting songs set to texts by Ernst Meister. Hide and Seek, an album of songs with words by Paul Auster (from his play by the same name) for chamber orchestra and the voices of Robert Wyatt and Susi Hyldgaard, was released in March 2001.
Theatrical productions of the work, conceived by Rolf Heim (who has previously worked with Mantler on the School of Understanding performances), were produced in the Spring of 2002 in Copenhagen (Kanonhallen, February) and Berlin (Hebbel Theater, March). His Concerto for Marimba and Vibraphone (originally commissioned by Portuguese percussionist Pedro Carneiro in 2001), was premiered at the Hessischer Rundfunk in March 2005 with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, conducted by Pascal Rophé. During September 2006 Porgy & Bess in Vienna presented a series of retrospective portrait concerts with his "Chamber Music and Songs" ensemble In recognition of his life's work he received several Austrian awards: the State Prize for Improvised Music, the Prandtauer Prize of the City of St.Pölten (where he spent his early youth), and the Music Prize of the City of Vienna. The anthology Review (recordings 1968 - 2000), released by ECM in 2006, traced his musical path during more than 30 years of recordings for JCOA, WATT and ECM. He appeared at the JazzFest Berlin in November 2007 with his Concertos project, featuring the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin under the direction of Roland Kluttig. A studio recording of the concertos with soloists Bjarne Roupé (guitar), Bob Rockwell (tenor saxophone), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Pedro Carneiro (marimba and vibraphone), Majella Stockhausen (piano), Nick Mason (percussion), and Mantler on trumpet, was released by ECM during November 2008. Official site Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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