Magazine article Gramophone

Haubenstock-Ramati: Konstellationen

Magazine article Gramophone

Haubenstock-Ramati: Konstellationen

Article excerpt

Haubenstock-Ramati

Konstellationen. Morendo--double/echo. Pluriel. Multiple 4. String Trio No 1, 'Ricercari' Vera Fischer fls Klangforum Wien Kairos (F) 0015003KAI (66' * DDD) Recorded live at the Semper-Depot, Vienna, October 30, 2010

This is a moment worth savouring, because discs documenting work by the Polish composer Roman Haubenstock-Ramati (1919-94) come along only very rarely. Haubenstock-Ramati's aim, which might also explain his relative obscurity, was to move musicians beyond what he perceived as the comfort zone of conventional notation, and Klangforum Wien offer three separate performances--'readings' might be a more appropriate word --of Konstellationen (1971), a score expressed as a sequence of 25 coloured etchings.

If the pictorial beauty of these images is obvious (take a look by Googling Haubenstock-Ramati's title), the question of how exactly to interpret his fracturing lines and disembodied note heads as sound is left hanging. Graphic notation refuseniks invariably raise the objection that, no matter who the composer, graphic pieces sound unmistakably of a type (graphic notation being notation that replaces notes, bars and staves with symbols, charts and/or diagrams)--classical performers left to their own devices will, the argument goes, inevitably default to doodling approximations of semi-remembered arpeggios and other stock figurations.

But never have I heard music like this before, which would suggest that Haubenstock-Ramati refined his notation to the point at which symbols score a deeper psychological impact on musicians than perhaps even they realise. …

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