Magazine article Gramophone

Stockhausen: Mantra

Magazine article Gramophone

Stockhausen: Mantra

Article excerpt

Stockhausen

Mantra

Mark Knoop, Roderick Chadwick pfs

Newton Armstrong elecs

hat[now]ART [F] HATN190 (69' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I didn't much care for the version of Stockhausen's Mantra that Xenia Pestova, Pascal Meyer and Jan Panis issued via Naxos in 2010. True enough, Mantra is a sound world away from the granular snarl of Stockhausen's epoch-defined pieces of 1950s modernism; but this Mantra felt too self-consciously pretty in a field dominated still by the Kontarsky brothers' premiere recording (DG, 7/72--nla).

Recorded at Kings Place, the concert hall which nestles under The Guardian's HQ in central London, pianists Mark Knoop and Roderick Chadwick, with Newton Armstrong managing the electronics, give us a modern version that is a real contender. The Naxos version suffered from a narrow bandwidth of dynamics; here the opening woodblock crack, with its accompanying brouhaha of piano turbulence, hits you between the eyes. Right from the get-go, the performance has a confidence that feels right and proper.

Mantra, written in 1970, finds Stockhausen at a point of transition. Behind him lay all those early responses to serialism--Gruppen, Kontakte, Refrain etc; ahead was Licht, his vast and wacky opera cycle, pinned around a network of melodic formulas, an idea about controlling musical material that had its roots in Mantra. …

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