Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stockhausen off the wall


After John Cage in Bruges Stockhausen has been happening in London. Take a leading rock music venue with no seats and a bar across the back wall, pack in three hundred experimental music fans, add contemporary music specialists Daan Vandewalle (piano - making his UK debut) and Chris Cutler (percussion) and a dodgy piano, and you have last week's Stockhausen tribute.

The first half of the SPNM promoted evening at the Luminaire deep in darkest Kilburn was devoted to emerging British experimental artists and in a neat move the audience was given a free CD recording of the set at the end of the evening. In the second half Stockhausen's Klavierstucke I-IV and the improvised version of Kontakte were coupled with two tributes in which Robin Rimbaud (electronics) joined Daan and Chris.

First came a solo from Robin, Retuning Stockhausen, which used samples of the composers music. A very off the wall evening ended with Opus 2128 based on Stockhausen's curiously suppressed Opus 1970 which was composed to mark the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. In the original the performers listened on headphones to extracts of Beethoven's work and accompanied them in designated ways with the option of making them audible.

In Opus 2128 (the number presumably being the year of Stockhausen's centenary) the Beethoven extracts were replaced, with one exception, with samples from Stockhausen's output. This improvised premiere brought the tribute evening to a suitably experimental end. Daan Vandewalle and Chris Cutler were also the driving forces in the Bruge John Cage Happening, and these tireless musicians are making a habit of showing that off the wall is still a good place for contemporary music music to be.

You can have too many low-light photos of gigs. So, as we were off to the Marcel Duchamp Tate exhibition the next day, my header photo was taken at the Stockhausen gig but shows the grafitti in the mens' toilets (rest rooms in Sequenza21 land). Much more interesting than the Glyndebourne equivalents, and like the Bruge photo I'm in their somewhere. More off the wall pictures here.
Header photo (c) On An Overgrown Path 2008. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

6 comments:

Pliable said...

Email received:

Wouldn't 2128 be the bi-centennial of Stockhausen's birth? 1970 was the bicentennial of Beethoven's birth, see,and.....I know, I know, I'm being a smart-ass! On-my-bike!
BTW.

Why DID Stockhausen suppress Opus 1970? Another work on a similar theme was Kagel's Ludwig Van.

Cheers
David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

David, of course you are right. My error - this all getting too complicated for me!

Ben.H said...

So, what did you think of Cutler and Vandewalle's improvising to Kontakte? I thought a bit a about it and reckon there are some interesting implications in using these types of gigs to present composers like Stockhausen. I liked their playing, and the use of electronic processing of the acoustic sounds along with the original tape, but by the end of the piece it was sounding like it was more about Cutler than Stockhausen.

Pliable said...

Ben, good question and I'm delighted to hear you made it out to darkest Kilburn as well.

Yes, I'd agree that the Kontakte was very 'free' improvisation. But I thought it none the worse for that, it fitted the theme of the evening which was really Stockhausen and beyond.

If there was any comment I'd make it would be that more 'pure' Stockhausen would have been a useful balance to the improvised sets. For me the highlight was Daan Vandewalle's playing of Klavierstücke I-IV and I was left wanting more.

But, given the state of the piano, Daan was probably glad there was no more!

Pliable said...

Email received:

Chris Cutler interviewd by " a woman who looks like a german porn star from the 70ties"‏

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfmyiVViOo0

BT

Ben.H said...

I also would have been happy to hear more of the Klavierstücke that night. The piano sounded fine, compared to the broken upright at the Bethnal Green Working Man's Club that people tried to play Lachenmann on at Rational Rec's soirees last year.