Author Topic: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London  (Read 14207 times)

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Offline MDL

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Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« on: April 21, 2008, 06:18:37 AM »
I'm not sure if this Guardian article has already been posted. I'm very excited at the prospect of hearing Trans live, but I haven't been able to confirm a date for that concert. Anyway, cut 'n' pasted from the Guardian website:

Festival will challenge dismissal of composer's later works as eccentric

Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent
Friday April 18, 2008
The Guardian


Karlheinz Stockhausen is famous for his string quartets hovering in helicopters; for appearing on the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and for calling the attacks on the World Trade Centre "the biggest work of art there has ever been".
But it is Stockhausen the "serious, hardworking musician who was, right up to the day he died, producing extremely finely wrought music" who will be the focus of a festival this autumn, according to Gillian Moore, head of contemporary culture at the Southbank Centre, London.

The festival, to be curated by Oliver Knussen, the composer and conductor, was already in the planning with Stockhausen when the composer died, aged 79, last December. While presenting some of his classic pioneering electronic works from the 1960s, such as Stimmung, Trans and Mantra, it will centre on more recent compositions - which are often dismissed as faintly dotty.
"We wanted to bust the myth that the later works are too crazy," said Moore. "Oliver and I believe that the later works have something unique about them. This can't be a nostalgia-fest."

Accordingly, the festival will present the UK premiere of his work Zodiac. It will also look at Klang, the last piece Stockhausen was working on. Klang is a cycle based on the hours of the day, and 21 of the 24 were completed.

According to Knussen, "Stockhausen's reputation rests on a number of path-breaking works from the first half of his career. But within the huge projects which occupied him for the rest of his life can be found similarly extraordinary and innovative compositions which have yet to be experienced by audiences here. The Klang cycle represents, in my view, a remarkable distillation of ideas and ideals."

Klang was a follow-up to Stockhausen's super-Wagnerian opera Licht: Die sieben Tage der Woche (Light: The Seven Days of the Week), of which the Helicopter String Quartet forms a part. The festival will give the UK premiere of part of this cycle when it presents Luzifers Tanz (Lucifer's Dance) from Samstag aus Licht (Saturday from Light).

The season will "expand the boundaries of what classical music is, and what artists can appear as part of a classical music series", according to Marshall Marcus, the centre's head of classical music. Theatre and opera director Katie Mitchell will present Schubert's Winterreise interspersed with Beckett poems and performed by Mark Padmore. And the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, under maestro Gustavo Dudamel, will take up residence for a week. Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish conductor-composer, will lead the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic will present a Tchaikovsky festival under conductor Vladimir Jurowski.

Other highlights include pianist Alfred Brendel's last London concert and a series from violinist Viktoria Mullova exploring multiple musical traditions.

« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 06:24:29 AM by MDL »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2008, 06:30:10 AM »
Thanks, that looks worth flying over for!  Would be worth it just for Stimmung, IMHO, but the rest of the festival has some interesting things, too.  An entire week with Dudamel and his Venezuelans would also be marvelous, based on what I heard from them last fall at Carnegie Hall.

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Offline MDL

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2008, 12:27:56 AM »
I've already posted about the 2008 Proms season, but just in case anybody missed it, Saturday August 2nd is Stockhausen Day, with events from 1pm until 11:35pm. This is another cut 'n' paste job, this time from the BBC Proms page. Sorry, I'm being a right lazy bugger, but I'm too busy at work at the moment to do a proper post. I shouldn't really be noodling around on GMG. Details:




1.00pm   PROMS FILMS (RCM): MUSIC MASTERS: STOCKHAUSEN
4.15pm   PROMS INTRO (RCM): STOCKHAUSEN DISCUSSION
6.00pm   PROM 20: STOCKHAUSEN DAY - BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
10.15pm PROM 21: STOCKHAUSEN DAY - THEATRE OF VOICES
PRINT THIS PAGE

1.00pm: Film Music Masters: Stockhausen (48'), and In absentia (23’).
4.15pm - 5.00pm: Proms Intro Discussion around pieces by Stockhausen, with Paul Hillier, Morag Grant and Robin Rimbaud.
Prom 20: Stockhausen Day 1 - BBC Symphony Orchestra
Date Saturday 2 August 2008

Time 6.00pm - c9.10pm

Venue ROYAL ALBERT HALL

 
Tickets £6-£35 price band A or Prom for £5

Broadcast Live on BBC Radio 3. Available as audio on demand for the following week.

One of the most influential composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, Karlheinz Stockhausen would have turned 80 this year.

Aside from the performance of Punkte (‘Points’) by the Gürzenich Orchestra under Markus Stenz on the actual day that would have been the composer’s 80th birthday (Prom 48), this Stockhausen Day offers a fuller immersion into the work of this uniquely uncompromising creative force.

This early-evening Prom contrasts a pair of Stockhausen's early works – Gruppen (‘Groups’), which passes ideas between three spatially separated ensembles, and Kontakte, referring to ‘contacts’ between instrumental and electronic sounds – with two recent works – both of them excerpts from Klang, the large-scale sequence on which Stockhausen was working at the time of his death last December.

Stockhausen
Gruppen (24 mins)
Stockhausen
Klang, 13th hour – Cosmic Pulses (for electronics) (UK premiere) (32 mins)
Stockhausen
Klang, 5th hour – Harmonien for solo trumpet (BBC commission: world premiere) (c15 mins)

Interval


Stockhausen
Kontakte (35 mins)
Stockhausen
Gruppen (repeat performance) (24 mins)

Marco Blaauw trumpet
Nicolas Hodges piano
Colin Currie percussion

BBC Symphony Orchestra
David Robertson conductor
Pascal Rophé conductor
Ludovic Morlot conductor

Detailed notes about the music will be available one hour before the concert.

Like this Prom? try these:

19/08  PROM 45: JONATHAN HARVEY, MESSIAEN & VARÈSE

22/08  PROM 48: STOCKHAUSEN'S PUNKTE




Prom 21: Stockhausen Day 2 - Theatre of Voices
Date Saturday 2 August 2008

Time 10.15pm - c11.35pm

Venue ROYAL ALBERT HALL

 
Tickets £10-£15 price band D or Prom for £5

Broadcast Live on BBC Radio 3. Available as audio on demand for the following week.


 In this Late Night Prom comes Stimmung for six amplified voices – the first work of Western music to be based on the harmonics, or overtones, that make up the sound-spectrum of a single note.

Stimmung is a hypnotic piece for ‘six singers and six microphones’ that takes on a unique atmosphere in live performance. Among the many influences which Stockhausen acknowledged when composing the work was a month spent wandering among the ruins in Mexico.

The Theatre of Voices – as adept in music of the Middle Ages as in new music – have made something of a speciality of Stimmung, and Hillier’s long association with the piece includes his participation as one of the singers at a Proms performance 30 years ago.

Stockhausen
Stimmung (70 mins)

There will be no interval

Theatre of Voices
Paul Hillier director


Detailed notes about the music will be available one hour before the concert.

Like this Prom? try these:

19/08  PROM 45: JONATHAN HARVEY, MESSIAEN & VARÈSE

22/08  PROM 48: STOCKHAUSEN'S PUNKTE

Offline MDL

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2008, 12:30:35 AM »
Thanks, that looks worth flying over for! 
--Bruce

Drop us a line if you do and I'll buy you a pint. ;D

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 09:53:17 AM »
Lucifer's Dance (1983) from Saturday Light is SICK!

Saturday Light Fever?

Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2008, 12:18:41 PM »
And the electronic work Cosmic Pulses (2006-07), the 13th hour from Klang is on my wish list!

FYI, if you still have Cosmic Pulses on your list--IMHO, it is not good at all, the sounds are quite cheesy and the music is just endlessly boring. It probably only works in concert, so that the movement is properly perceived. It is quite distant from works like Kurzwellen or Hymnen. Of the Licht cycle, the only one I can listen to is Mittwoch (e.g. Orchester Finalisten).
//p
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Renfield

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2008, 02:17:19 PM »
I'll likely catch Punkte in the Proms, over the weekend that I'll be in London.

And I'm looking forward to it as my first exposure to Stockhausen. :)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 02:19:40 PM by Renfield »

Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2008, 09:03:04 AM »
yea..i haven't ordered it yet, but the concert reviews of it that i have read have been extremely positive, (so maybe there is something about hearing it live with the composer's specified sound projection/spatialization that makes it much more compelling...) than on disc.

though it being his last major pure electronic piece, i want to at least hear it, I like his work in this area a great deal and the idea of a piece consisting of 24 seperate musical layers in time & space i find intriguing & exciting...especially as it's coming from a master like KS.

I can show you excerpts if you want. It's not unlike the electronic music in Freitag or Oktophonie from Dienstag, which were both disappointments to me--static, with bursts using timbres so reminiscent of the DX 7 and FM synthesis, unfortunately done in a very lame way. I am positive that these, too, need to be listened to inside an auditorium, with the requisite array of speakers and at full blast.

Now, from Klang, I just *love* Naturliche Dauern, but then I am a sucker for that kind of piano writing.
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Offline Al Moritz

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2008, 06:33:58 PM »
FYI, if you still have Cosmic Pulses on your list--IMHO, it is not good at all, the sounds are quite cheesy and the music is just endlessly boring. It probably only works in concert, so that the movement is properly perceived. It is quite distant from works like Kurzwellen or Hymnen. Of the Licht cycle, the only one I can listen to is Mittwoch (e.g. Orchester Finalisten).

I love the CD of Cosmic Pulses, even though it is obvious that 8-channel projection would open up the music a lot. I just listened to it tonight, and I don't perceive the sounds as cheesy at all*). I love most of Licht as well, and also (and especially) Welt-Parlament from Mitttwoch. However, I find Orchester-Finalisten to be one of the very few Stockhausen works that I would be inclined to characterize as 'rather weak' (likewise the Helikopter-Streichquartett). What do you see in this music? I am curious, since perhaps I am missing something here.

Al

*) even though I can see how one can; that's the drawback with any electronic music -- since the timbres are a matter of choice, they also become a matter of taste, while a violin or a piano just sound like they do, there is nothing to discuss or wish differently.

Offline Al Moritz

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2008, 06:38:20 PM »
By the way, as to Cosmic Pulses being boring: you *must* listen on a high-resolution ssystem, otherwise the long middle part with the fast swirling sounds will indeed inevitably sound all the same.

Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2008, 03:15:09 AM »
By the way, as to Cosmic Pulses being boring: you *must* listen on a high-resolution ssystem, otherwise the long middle part with the fast swirling sounds will indeed inevitably sound all the same.

What is your definition of high-resolution? I consider my system fairly resolving, although it is not at the top of high-end systems.
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2008, 03:43:33 AM »
I love the CD of Cosmic Pulses, even though it is obvious that 8-channel projection would open up the music a lot. I just listened to it tonight, and I don't perceive the sounds as cheesy at all*). I love most of Licht as well, and also (and especially) Welt-Parlament from Mitttwoch. However, I find Orchester-Finalisten to be one of the very few Stockhausen works that I would be inclined to characterize as 'rather weak' (likewise the Helikopter-Streichquartett). What do you see in this music? I am curious, since perhaps I am missing something here.

I like the atmospheric, generally quiet character of that music. But then, I like things like Nono's Fragmente-Stille and Omaggio a Kurtág.

*) even though I can see how one can; that's the drawback with any electronic music -- since the timbres are a matter of choice, they also become a matter of taste, while a violin or a piano just sound like they do, there is nothing to discuss or wish differently.

The difference is that with a violin and a piano the sound is much more organic, and subtle articulations, gradations of dynamics, even speed affect the timbre in a variety of ways that is not easy to replicate in electronic music. Mind you, I like electronic music a lot, just not plain FM sounds done in a very simplistic way and with a musical discourse that is unengaging. It seems to me that the most recent electronic music from Stockhausen focuses on sound projection and not necessarily on the sounds themselves (he admitted as much in comments made at the occasion of the Helikopter-Streichquartett) and thus, as I mentioned previously, listening to those works outside of the space of an auditorium and in a stereo reduction will take out most of the elements that went in to their creation. It is, however, interesting to note how Kontakte, Gesang der Jünglinge and Hymnen are still very fresh today as they were 40 or 50 years ago, and remain far more engaging than his latest works. This all in my opinion, of course, so your mileage may vary.
//p
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Offline Al Moritz

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2008, 07:35:16 AM »
What is your definition of high-resolution? I consider my system fairly resolving, although it is not at the top of high-end systems.

Yeah that should do.

Offline Al Moritz

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2008, 07:41:21 AM »
I like the atmospheric, generally quiet character of that music. But then, I like things like Nono's Fragmente-Stille and Omaggio a Kurtág.

I see. But then I find it also boring. Unlike Nono and Stockhausen at the top of their game, which is almost all of the time.

Quote
The difference is that with a violin and a piano the sound is much more organic, and subtle articulations, gradations of dynamics, even speed affect the timbre in a variety of ways that is not easy to replicate in electronic music. Mind you, I like electronic music a lot, just not plain FM sounds done in a very simplistic way and with a musical discourse that is unengaging.

Well, I find these positive things you mentioned also in the Electronic Music of Friday and in Oktophonie.

Quote
It is, however, interesting to note how Kontakte, Gesang der Jünglinge and Hymnen are still very fresh today as they were 40 or 50 years ago,

I agree about their freshness, and most would, but then I read a review that called Hymnen "hopelessly dated". Go figure.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2008, 07:45:40 AM by Al Moritz »

Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2008, 09:50:45 AM »
what i've heard of cp was a bit disappointing...i was expecting so much more ...it being a later work, i was hoping it would be even better that what came before...

That is precisely my point. There is a lot of great, fantastic electronic and concrete music that was produced in the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, that in my mind just makes Cosmic Pulses totally inexcusable. Reading about the work, I so wanted it to be way better than what had came before; alas, that was not the case :(.
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2008, 09:54:56 AM »
for the most part I agree, another classic of the genre from the earlier days is Telemusik. I prefer it to Hymnen.

Although I like it--I like almost everything Stockhausen composed until 1970--the sheer scale of Hymnen is unparalleled.
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2008, 10:36:18 AM »
hmm ive never been impressed or won over just because of the scale of a work no matter the composer, more it's content & expression...hymnen while creative & ambitious..it's rather patchy, longwinded and indulgent (something many composers are guilty of) and i feel it could have been more compact & concise. Something that Telemusik & Gesang der Jünglinge have ...

The first time I heard it I was so taken by it that I played it twice in a row. I can see why one would call it patchy, longwinded and indulgent; something of that scale requires the perfect mood and state of mind. Following it with the score is also a good experience.
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2008, 12:10:35 PM »
length, scale, method etc. are ultimately immaterial and are in no way more important than substance and what the music says to me.

Absolutely. I was not implying that scale is more important than the other values; in the specific case of my first exposure to Hymnen, it was quite like a feast for the ears and impressive that it could be engaging throughout, a feat difficult to achieve with long pieces. I tend to prefer pieces that are concise and do not employ more than what is strictly necessary--my appreciation for Webern and his ability to "concentrate a romance into a sigh" is borne out of that concision. While I totally agree with you that it is indulgent from the point of view of the composer, I find Hymnen to be first and foremost a pleasurable indulgence to my ears.
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Offline Al Moritz

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2008, 09:45:58 PM »
I got an email from someone who was at the Stockhausen summer courses 2008 in Kuerten where they also explained the realization of Cosmic Pulses.

He replied on my statement that the sounds have been called "cheesy":

"I am getting very tired of that word, which is essentially meaningless. I'm also getting a little tired of hearing these sounds described as "off-the-shelf commercial synthesizer timbres", because they are not. Each and every one is created in two levels, each of six combined sounds. They are made on a Kurzweil, it is true, but you can't get them by just pushing a button." (End quote.)

This also contradicts the suggestion that Stockhausen lately only focused on sound projection rather than on the sounds themselves.

Offline petrarch

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Re: Stockhausen Festival at the South Bank Centre, London
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2008, 03:56:06 AM »
"I am getting very tired of that word, which is essentially meaningless. I'm also getting a little tired of hearing these sounds described as "off-the-shelf commercial synthesizer timbres", because they are not. Each and every one is created in two levels, each of six combined sounds. They are made on a Kurzweil, it is true, but you can't get them by just pushing a button." (End qu,ote.)

"Cheesy" is certainly not meaningless. It means, very precisely, a bland, plain sound. Whether they are made with X levels and Y combined sounds on harware Z they can still sound bland and boring. The Yamaha DX-7 was one of the earliest synthesizers that featured FM synthesis, arguably the most complex method of synthesizing sound until the advent of granular synthesis. Yet, most usual sounds it produces are just invariably cheesy (for the first time, a synthesizer could very easily produce metallic sounds--and thus realistic bells--and everyone seemed to abuse them). That was likely caused by the fact that if you tried to add richness to the sounds, they would become completely unpredictable and more often than not you would get noise of out of them, thus making them useless, a consequence of how digital FM synthesis works. I have a Kurzweil myself and I would bet the sounds created for Cosmic Pulses are done using some form of FM synthesis. As is usual in works that use digital FM, if you want long-lived sounds (of the kind that can last many seconds or even minutes so that they can be projected and their trajectories followed), you need stable sounds, typically resulting in blandness and boredom. He produced far more interesting sounds (and not cheesy at all!) with tape, glue, scissors and a simple impulse generator than with a Kurzweil.

This also contradicts the suggestion that Stockhausen lately only focused on sound projection rather than on the sounds themselves.

If you consider 1) the richness of electronic and concrete sounds of past works of his, and 2) the sheer amount of technical documentation on spatialization put forth for Cosmic Pulses (as opposed to documentation for synthesizing the sounds), one can very justifiably conclude that his focus has been on the spatialization elements of the music.

But hey, who am I to detract from any pleasure you derive from Cosmic Pulses... Enjoy it at will and without restriction and pay no attention to what I am saying, as after all it is just my opinion.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 04:00:37 AM by petrArch »
//p
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