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  • Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helicopter Quartet [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
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Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helicopter Quartet [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]

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Product details

  • Directors: Frank Scheffer
  • Format: Classical, Colour, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German, English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Medici Arts
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Jun. 2008
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B00176I94K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,121 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Colin J. Herd on 22 Nov. 2008
Verified Purchase
I can't recommend this film strongly enough. No matter whether you are a disciple or sceptic about Stockhausen's music, it is an extraordinary thing to do to send four musicians up into the air in four separate helicopters and feed this back via a mixing desk into a concerthall with towers of tvs showing them. Watching this film is surreal. I had to pinch myself sometimes, but it is also inspiring: i.e., hey why don't i try to think a bit more outside the box.

The piece that Scheffer interestingl documents is the helicopter string quartet from 1995. It is just one part of Stockhausen's wider exploration of 'space' in music. Stockhausen himself describes the genesis of the piece as coming from a dream that he dared not tell anyone about it was too wacky. Eventually, due to his enthusiasm for the idea of flying and some celestial signs, the piece gets produced. fascinating and strange.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining DVD on what is perhaps the most oddball of modernist repertoire 31 July 2009
By Christopher Culver - Published on
This DVD contains a documentary by Frank Scheffer on Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Helicopter String Quartet", one of the oddest and most ambitious pieces of contemporary music around. When Stockhausen received a generous commission shortly after dreaming of flying, he conceived a work where the four players of a string quartet would each be lifted up into their air in their own helicopter, and their playing (synchronized by a click track) would be relayed to the ground, mixed at a central control panel, and then spatialized through speakers in the hall for the audience.

As the Arditti Quartet began rehearsing for the work's premiere under Stockhausen's guidance in 1995, Scheffer was there to capture the challenges and joys that this unusual work posed. Each of the members of the quartet presents their thoughts -- violinists Irvine Arditti and Graeme Jennings, violist Garth Knox and cellist Rohan de Saram. Stockhausen does most of the talking, however, explaining how he wrote the piece and how it fits into his overall aesthetic. (Strangely, however, Stockhausen nowhere explains how the quartet fits into his opera LICHT.) Even those who are fairly familiar with Stockhausen's late music will learn something here. I was surprised that the counting in the piece, where the performers take turns saying "Eins", "Zwei", "Drei", "Vier" etc. was not originally meant to show the players were synchronized (it was just another example of Stockhausen's nutty numerology in LICHT), but this was a mere bonus. The documentary does cover all aspects of the piece, from the actual string quartet, to Stockhausen's mixing and spatialization, and even the logistics of flying and broadcasting from the Helicopters.

The Helicopter String Quartet was an immense spectacle through its massive proportions, but all late Stockhausen works had some element of spectacle in them simply because Stockhausen was at this point completely insane. In Schaeffer's documentary, he comes across more as a lovable dotty uncle than as the cult leader or burnt-out hippie of other sources. His wives appear in the background of many of the rehearsal scenes while assisting Stockhausen, thus giving an idea of life in the composer's studio.

In my opinion, the Helicopter String Quartet is not terribly great music. It is however fun performance art, and it already seems to have struck a chord with the public. I'd recommend the DVD to fans of modernist music, and I think even those fans who don't care much for Stockhausen would enjoy seeing the Ardittis take on a new piece.
What Can You Say...It's Stockhausen 28 April 2015
By blumenberg - Published on
Verified Purchase
What can you say. It's Stockhausen. Well done doco on the conception and performance of the piece. In itself, the music is not that interesting (say compared to his wonderful Piano Pieces I-XI) but the combo of strings and helicopters certainly shifts the goalposts, as he usually does. The real treat is to see Karl himself trotting around preparing the piece with the musos.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Karlheinz- Wo bist Du? 14 July 2008
By scarecrow - Published on
Verified Purchase
always toward the end you get more Zen-like; simplicity seems to impart itself on older consciousnesses;it happen to Hegel, Godard,Goethe,Webern and Lacan; be what you do, you try to come to terms with what you did in the beginning with high levels of complexity and proceed forward; Stockhausen (KS) explains he has no philosophy,(but really he does) speaking in impeccable German, he speaks in clear threadbare rhythms like his latter music of LICHT,beautiful in-and-of-itself; but KS did (the latter years, 1970 forward cultivate a kind of soft non-threatening tribalism,certainly no worse than the brutal cultural cadres in New York City; his tribes practice(laid back) in tune with high post-war modernity and his own celestial migrations to the zodiac,(kreis) new spaces,new densities and configural gardens; here the Helikopter Quartet was something a bit more interesting for Arditti to do than the coldly calculated abstractions they perform, assisted by the Grasshoppers, The Dutch Air Force stunt team, but far from overt entertainment, seeing the four helikopters hovering in sinusoidal patterns almost within reach of each other(it is a string quartet)and has its own restrained gentle beauty without always encumbered by the incessant chopper blade rotors being heard,helikopters do not instantly suggest peace or serious art,but things far more violent and turbulent,nightmarish for some,understandable why the piece was boycotted(How much does this cost, how many hungry children can be fed?, we hear) and had to move to The Holland Festival; the Arditti should be congratulated for such aeshtetic bravery for art;( new genre to contemplate) They simply don't play and are required to shout numbers in German, eins, zwei, vier, funf, something from LICHT(Light) for which this piece(peace) was contemplated in 1995.The piece does become a bit goofy seeing each isolated player,like some aesthetic vessel.There are wonderful rehearsals coordination on the ground with KS at the controls something he does quite well, while the troops are in the air hovering. The music is not about the music but about how the helikopters move, you eradicate this and the music is fairly commonplace, even for Stockhausen;this music fairly resembles what helikopters do,hover,rotate,spin, so string tremoli all blended together electronically give a nice gentle ambience.
Now I know why Stockhausen has neglected the string timbre throughout his life, not really writing anything distingushable or exciting for strings alone, and strings are far removed from the universals incorporated into his cherished timbre, electronics, live or otherwise.Well here technically this is very expensive electronic music.This is a gentle portrait of what seems to be a gentle human simply practicing his art, tending his gardens of timbres. . .
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