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  • Stockhausen: Klavierstücke Nos 1-11/Mikrophonie Nos 1 & 2
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Stockhausen: Klavierstücke Nos 1-11/Mikrophonie Nos 1 & 2

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Product details

Disc: 1
1. Klavierstuck 1
2. Klavierstuck 2
3. Klavierstuck 3
4. Klavierstuck 4
5. Klavierstuck 5
6. Klavierstuck 6
7. Klavierstuck 7
8. Klavierstuck 8
9. Klavierstuck 9
10. Klavierstuck 11
Disc: 2
1. Klavierstuck 10
2. Mikrophonie 1
3. Mikrophonie 2

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An essential recording of a monumental collection 4 Sept. 2008
By Gaetano - Published on Amazon.com
Famously quoted by Stockhausen as `... my drawings...' these pieces were composed between Stockhausen's fledgling years as a student in Germany and his rise and permanence to international infamy as a bizarre musical personality of dazzling compositional virtuosity primarily of timber, spatial organization and electronics.

Expanding the boundaries of what were perennially perceived `pianistic' in the 19th century (its orchestral range in pitch, dynamics and extreme responsiveness), Stockhausen revisited and utilized unique strengths of the instrument such as applying distinct dynamics simultaneously on separate horizontal lines and redefined what was considered one of the instrument's ultimate deficiency as a non sustaining instrument into a unique strength - epitomized by the gradual, continuous decay of thunderous, complex clusters down to a single note in Klavierstuck X. Stockhausen was interested in the musical contrast and orchestration of extremes, both simultaneously and as they evolved through the entire piece.

The particular milestone of this creative collection is the aforementioned Klavierstuck X. Lasting between 22 to 25 minutes, `organized sound' with assigned, specific numerical values act as agents that explore through maximum chaos and violence, austere Webernian simplicity and serenity, and everything in between. Similar to how Beethoven's Fifth symphony blazed through the transition from darkness of the first movement to the incandescent fourth impelled primarily by the modulation from a minor to major key, it follows a very specific but convoluted overall musical scheme that plays on volume, tempo fluctuations and flirtatious oscillation within the boundary of what we consider noise and 'clean' notes produced by a musical instrument.

Any rendition must be supported by superb acoustics, and this is where surprisingly, Kontarsky's 1965 analog version reins supreme over the other easily accessible, digital Henck recording of the 80's. Henck's razor sharp cluster glissandos display more violence pivotal to the enjoyment of this work, but none of the indescribable effect as the clusters decompose continuously from opacity to transparency can be heard. An eerie and unexciting dead silence immediately follows the clusters with the absence of the crucial in-between. Without the aurally perceivable transition between the extreme contrasts, this piece cannot be fully appreciated.

Cited by Ian Pace as one of the transcendentally difficult works, one must substitute the traditional habit of searching for harmony and counterpoint to that of enjoying musical gestures for their own sake. Perhaps no piano work in the second half of the twentieth century has been wildly inventive as this. Maurizio Pollini recognizes it as an accomplishment equal to the monumental efforts of the great 19th and early 20th century composers, rivaled only by Boulez amongst his contemporaries. Kontarsky's recording is also accompanied by Stockhausen's humorous and meticulous observations on Kontarsky's gastronomical preoccupation and its supposed effect on the entire recording process. The price is reasonable and well worth what can only be coined a ride. Get it while you can!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
vintage materials,wonderful 23 Dec. 2005
By scarecrow - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
you may recall or own the early vinyl from the late Sixties on CBS, a Box set of Kontarsky also playing these first 11 piano pieces, the latter ones 12 through 15 were subterranean objects utilized as particle-like accompaniments for Stockhausen's opera for each day of the Week :Licht:(#13 klavierstuck with Bass Voice of Lucifer added).
The first four piano pieces here function within an evolution, for one can decipher one,if one chooses. These were written still under the tutelage in Paris of his teacher Messiaen, and explored a harsh pointillism,not like Webern in the least,but struck from that expressive conceptual vein, "punkte", or "points",were the paradigm of the day, Cage and Boulez soon had works as well; deeply cold,auspicious and strident piercing differing registers with many times the spatial distribution that coincided with the dynamics; softer tones played pianissimo,or gradations of it, p,pp,ppp,pppp,ppppp were in a distance, louder tones,f or ff,or fff,or ffff, sfz, or sffz were in front of you.There is an overwhelming aggressive dimension to the young Stockhausen still to these early pieces,almost machine-like,all-encompassing, third person; yet they do have points of beauty of the clean,clangorous crisp,and threadbare lines,single and multiple atonal tones exposed, tossed again into all registers, as # 2 and 3.The rhythmic configurations were the most difficult yet seen with dotted-values tied, with a virtuosic demeanor,short fragmented thunderous bursts,impenetrable at times.
Also the piano resonance has a marvelous mystery in Stockhausen,nothing extended yet as harmonics, as if these pieces have a trajectory all their own without history or points of reference outside them.Although at this time Stockhausen was very much interested in communication theory, the science of numbers and densities,pre-e;electropnic thinking; the existential angst(also of this post-war period) and extra-musical dimensions was left to his creative colleagues as Berio,Penderecki and Nono to decipher.
With piano piece #5 we have now "groups" of tones that are explored, harmonies to be heard, non-functional,again the free resonant canvas of timbre; and then tempi,always again with a virtuosic demeanor soliciting almost constant metronomic changes,pulse transformations in gradations,slow-fast-slow,slow fast,slow, in #6 Stockhausen provides a graph above the piano system to chart these tempi changes to act as a visual guide for the pianist, 45 at the top of this graph and 185 at the bottom.,#7 then has an abundance of harmonics to explore and this is the most beautiful (within this context) of the lot,#8,and #9,is/was the most widely played with the incessant reiteration of chords,"groups" with sharp chordal punctuations, attacks all explore then differing resonant chambers, as repeated tones, and beautiful harmonics,this as the focus for the entire work with again dynamics explored. Not until #10 is where the pianist plays with white gloves with the fingers cut out at the tips, to expose the flesh this to negotiate/elicit the multitudes of glissandi, with overwhelming forearm and palm clusters, groups, and "groups of groups" of tones now further accretes into cascades and mountains of piano resonances, still defined and shaped within a rhythmic scheme. Then #11 is the indeterminate one mobile,something wrought from John Cage an early mentor; where musical fragments are places on a large page, 2 feet by 3 feet, and the pianist must decide the routes and pathways takened. Kontarsky plays all these these very well,and had worked with the composer closely as well as publically performing them numerously throughout Europe, the reading here is sort of centrist not overly engaging but allowing the densities,attacks,points and registers to be and ring as they were intended.I prefer Rzewski in #10 only better for the electricity he seems to bring to his tone and resonant trajectory.

The Mikrophonie as well is here an early piece of live electronics, a genre that is quite commonplace now; where contact mikes and hand-held microphones are places close to the surface of a very large 8 Foot Tam-Tam,then with chalk placed on toilet paper cartridges,the player slowly glides this over the surface with the elctronics picking up gorgeous tones,overtones and detritus of timbre,also harmonics are elicited from this wonder of an instrument, You need four players here, two manning the Tam-Tam and two on electronics to distribute the timbres within the audience places.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5 Stars for Mikrophonie II 21 May 2008
By William Michaels - Published on Amazon.com
Although I am indifferent to Stockhausen's piano music and only moderately interested in Mikrophonie I, Mikrophonie II is a masterpiece, I would say the greatest electronic (or partially electronic) piece ever written, and possibly Stockhausen's best (though there is plenty of competition). It is like an Anselm Kiefer painting in sound, with all of the brutalities, longings, and woes of Germany depicted in an amazingly compact, rich 15 minutes. 15 minutes of fame indeed!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Mikrphonies are Stockhausen at his creative best 30 Oct. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Where the Klavierstücken are didactic and illuminate the composer's development over his years, the Mikrophonie are blazing, powerful works, breathtaking and powerful. As the Klavierstücken are as Beethoven's Quartets, Mikrophonie II correspond to the Ninth Symphony. Highly recommended listening, and as essential to a collection of contemporary music s Kurzwellen and the 1970 electronic pieces. Mikrophonie II is probably Karlheinz' best orchestral composition of his career.
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