December 21, 2020
Cornelius Waldner

Another new name to me, Sagittarius is a German art-house project or ensemble put together by composer and pianist Cornelius Waldner in 1998 which has, over the years put out several eclectic albums with Songs Of Dreams And Death now being the fourth album. In addition, a mini-album was put out in 2017 but this is the first full release since The Kingdom Come in 2012 so followers of Sagittarius have had a long wait for this but it is correct to point out that this has been a work in progress from 2014 right up to 2020.

There are just the two musicians involved on this latest release with Waldner playing piano and vocals as well as the orchestral arrangements with Herr Twiggs providing the main vocals. Described as Neoclassical which, in this case, I take to mean a modern take on classical music and what you have here is a rather stark and stripped back vocal and piano work. The music is very evocative with simple piano refrains that are delivered with exquisite precision and is definitely a case of less is more.

Herr Twiggs

The vocals are mainly delivered in German although English language is used and are a mixture of sung and spoken works which gives the whole piece a feel that it is more poetry set to music. The German delivery over the beautiful piano pieces works really well but, for a non German speaker, you feel as though you are missing out of an element of what the two artists are putting to you but, in a way, this makes it even more abstract, strange and almost ethereal. There is little information on the band available on the internet and the website takes you straight to the Bandcamp website where you can get a taste of that the band is about and the album is available there too.

A little delving reveals that Sagittarius is the vehicle for Waldner to express his interpretations of the poetic works and philosophical writings of leading German writers such as Ernst Jünger. A most ambitious and worthy aspiration and I cannot comment on the earlier works but the fourteen pieces on Songs Of Dreams And Death are dark, gloomy and almost gothic musings that are evocative and delightfully intense. The pieces concerned take us through the ‘poetical worlds of symbolism, expressionism and romanticism, with poems by Stefan George, Karl Wolfskehl, Pär Lagerkvist and Count Eric Stenbock set to music’. As such, this is a work of art as much as it is of music and it has to be heard to fully understand the scope and nature of the project.

I’m afraid that I cannot give you any references as to what the music is close to as it is very much unlike anything I have heard before. It’s classical music derived for sure with a touch of European folk roots which makes for an ethereal album than runs the gamut of emotions and is full of despair contrasted with hints of beauty beyond compare. Have a listen and take your time, some will not like it but others will find it wonderful beyond belief.