Requiem for a Dying Planet

Music for two Werner Herzog films The Wild Blue Yonder & The White Diamond

“…a soundtrack featuring a Senegalese singer, five Sardinian voices and a Dutch cellist – is mesmerizing and beyond categorization.” 
David Jenkins, Sunday Telegraph

“The soundtrack is destined for greater things.” 
Ray Bennett, Hollywood Reporter

“A work of hypnotic beauty with an original soundtrack of bewitching music by Ernst Reijseger and with the enchanting voice notably of Mola Sylla from Senegal.”
Fabien Lemercier, CineEuropa

“In Reijseger, Herzog met his match. Here was a musician who not only played the cello with skill and craftmanship but one who was also blessed with a spirit of adventure and artistic openness that invited collaboration.”
Donal Dineen, Irish Times

“Herzog was collaborating with music on this, he was jamming along to the soundtrack, I dare to say, possibly the edit was informed by the soundtrack.”
Myles O’Reilly

Music has always played a central part in the work of film director Werner Herzog. It is never an ‘add-on’ but an integral part of every production, whether feature-film or documentary. In 2004 Werner Herzog reached out to Ernst Reijseger after hearing Colla Voche, the album with the Sardinian voices. He was in the process of finishing the documentaries The White Diamond and The Wild Blue Yonder. “I want to use imagery and sound in a way you have never before experienced”, Herzog said. 

Ernst Reijseger’s music fulfilled Herzog’s expectation of a soundtrack to the adventures with airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington in Guyana (The White Diamond) and the fiction about an exceptional planet (The Wild Blue Yonder). 

For the score, Reijseger proposed to  Herzog to invite the Senegalese singer Mola Sylla, to form a combination with the Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei.  Reijseger knew them both, and trusted their ability to connect. Their collaboration went well and naturally. In Reijseger’s perception, there is no problem connecting a muslim, five convinced Catholics and an atheist.

The soundtrack contains Reijseger solo, Reijseger and Sylla duo, and pieces in combination with Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei.

 In track one and two, Reijseger’s solo cello is joined by a vintage recording from Friedrich Händel’s “Dank sei dir Gott” featuring singer Emmi Leisner, evoking weightlessness.

 Longing for a Frozen Sky is a cello solo improvisation underscored by Guyana jungle sounds and radio sounds between the ISS (International Space Station) and Earth.

 In Bad News from Outer Space,  Reijseger plays prepared, acoustic cello resembling a ring modulation effect, meaning that certain frequencies are manipulated.

 Song of the Desert and In Search of a Hospitable Place are two instant compositions of Reijseger with Mola Sylla. Reijseger lays the foundation and Sylla immediately sings on top.

 The pieces Libera me Domine, Sanctus and Kyrie are religious pieces of the Cuncordu de Orosei, arranged by Reijseger and combined with cello playing and Sylla’s singing.

Ballu Turturinu is sung by Tenore de Orosei. It is preceded by Mura, a gambling game, that was forbidden by the church. Nowadays, Mura is played by youngsters as a social game. Basically, it’s up tempo mental arithmetic and gambling in one. Mura is played in sets of two people. Both of them put forward their hand, showing one to five fingers and simultaneously calling the guessed sum of their own fingers plus the opponent’s fingers. Meanwhile, with their other hand behind their back, they keep score. The winner plays against another opponent in the group.

Su Bolu ‘e s’Astore is a contemporary song, sung by all members of Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei. It’s about the flight of the hawk. This beautiful song felt appropriate to record to Werner Herzog’s footage.

Requiem for a Dying Planet is the name of the first chapter in The Wild Blue Yonder. Reijseger chose the name because of its poetic beauty and as a wake up call about the Earth’s environment.