Sunday, September 25, 2011

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Sirius (Deutsche Grammophon - 2707 122)

Karlheinz Stockhausen is undisputably one of the most important composers of 20th Century as well as a highly respected theoretician. He was always brutally original in his both earlier and later works. It is discussed that his works after 1970s were more concentrated on conventially more standard grounds, but one has to listen Donnerstag Aus Licht and clearly can reject these views altogether.

Sirius is another example from the same era. It was written between 1975 and 77. It is a work for electronic music, trumpet, soprano, bass clarinet and bass. It is based on the concept of universe and nature. The composition of the work is such that it has 4 main parts, namely Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. They are also named as Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn respectively. However, based on view and performance, these can be changed with The Earth, The Fire, The Water, The Air or The Seed, The Bud, The Blossom and The Fruit. The list goes on more. Stockhausen describes this cycle as "The Wheel". Based on performances, The Wheel can start from any part.

This work was commissioned by FDR Germany for the opening of the Albert Einstein Spacearium in the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. The work has the motto "To the pioneers on earth and in space".

The music itself can at best be described as improvisation of instruments and vocalization over prepared electronic music samples. This work is rather based on theoretical grounds instead of hardcore experimentalism that could be viewed during the 50s and 60s. Another reason for the slightly milder tone of experimentalism could lie on the reality that this was a commissioned work for an opening of a Museum where viewers would not be the standard open minded audience of Stockhausen. Even as it may, this work is structurally original and strikingly experimental in terms of perspective of composition.

On this record (2 Lp) Markus Stockhausen plays the trumpet (Yes he is related, father - son), Annette Metiweather is the Soprano, Suzanne Stephens plays the Klarinette (Also translated Stockhausen's explanatory booklet into English) and Boris Carmeli is basso profundo.

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