Saturday, October 06, 2007


Extraordinary though it may seem (I blush at the memory myself), I once tried to date someone by inviting them to hear a five-hour performance of works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, including Stimmung, which I still think is wonderful. Needless to say, the response wasn't exactly "you've pulled". Though the fine woman concerned has since discovered an admirable taste for contemporary music, I gather, it certainly had little to do with me, I'm sure. Ah, well. That was 31 years ago. But Stimmung still marches on, and has been well reviewed by Andrew Clements in The Guardian.

"Like all the greatest music it is unclassifiable - part meditation, part gigantic motet, part phonetic game - and totally resistant to imitation. Though in essence it is a vast elaboration of a single six-note chord based on the overtones of the note B flat, it never seems to stale in performance, partly because of the extraordinary variety of rhythm, attack and colour that Stockhausen generates within the 51 "models" into which he divides the 70-minute piece, and partly through the freedom for performers that is built in to the score, allowing the singers to decide the order in which the models are sung and where in the sequence a series of 66 "magic names" and four erotic poems are inserted. This is only the third commercial recording of Stimmung; 25 years ago Paul Hillier was a member of Singcircle, the British group behind the second, following the original by Collegium Vocale Cologne, who gave the first performance in 1968. Now, with his Theatre of Voices, Hillier has directed his own version, recorded in Copenhagen last year." Continued here.

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