STOCKHAUSEN, KARLHEINZ: Complete early percussion works. (dbl CD)
What it says on the tin. CD 1 offers the very convincing Schlagtrio (1952/revised 1973) for piano and 2 tympanists (the tympani are tuned a quartertone below the piano) with great broken rhythms and a big, powerful sound, the classic and never equalled Kontakte (1958-60) for piano, percussion and tape, beautifully recorded and extremely well played and the shorter Refrain. CD 2 offers, of course, Zyklus, the first piece for solo percussionist ever written, and one of the most complex and convincing; this version takes a few minutes to settle but then it achieves real depth and, finally, there’s a new reading by San Diego percussion ensemble red fish blue fish of the monumental Mikrophonie I, for giant tam-tam, microphones, filters and potentiometers. It sounds like so little but delivers so much; I mean so much that it’s hard to grasp or understand it. Mikrophonie I is a piece that seems to come from nowhere and to relate to nothing: how can such a coherent universe of uncategoriseable and unrecognisable sound be got out of a big bit of metal played by two people in real time, while four others move microphones around and play with levels? In light of the definitive nature of the original 1965 recording, a new version is a brave undertaking, but it turns out to add a lot to what we know. The superior quality of the sound alone lends the piece a completely different quality. This is one of the great works of the C20 and this reading makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of it.
Code: Mode 274/275