Stockhausen Edition no. 27
(In Freundschaft / Traum-Formel / Amour)
Karlheinz Stockhausen In Freundschaft for clarinet (1977) / Traum-Formel for basset-horn (1981) / Amour, 5 pieces for clarinet (1976).
Suzanne Stephens [clarinet, basset-horn].
Stockhausen 27. Duration: 48:32.
Suzanne Stephens originally from the U.S.A., born in Iowa is one of Stockhausens long time collaborators. She has been performing Professor Stockhausens works since 1974. This is her second solo album of the Stockhausen Edition; the first one being Harlekin & Der kleine Harlekin (Stockhausen Edition 25), but she has performed on numerous of the CDs in the Edition. Many of the works she performs have been dedicated to her by Professor Stockhausen. Volume 32 of the Edition is Suzanne Stephens largest solo effort of the Stockhausen Edition, spanning three CDs. This issue will be reviewed somewhat later, as the CDs of the Edition are studied chronologically.
In Freundschaft (In Friendship) was in fact composed as a birthday gift for Suzanne Stephens in 1977. It was already from the beginning envisioned as a solo piece for different instruments. On this CD Stephens performs on a clarinet, but the piece can also be played on bass clarinet, basset-horn, flute, oboe, bassoon, recorder, saxophone, violin, cello, horn & trombone! This makes it as applicable and easily utilized as, for example, Tierkreis, which has also been performed in numerous instrumental versions.
Stockhausen works with three layers in In Freundschaft. He calls his method here horizontal polyphony, and indicates that it requires a special art of listening. This is surely true, but you can also dip into the flow and enjoy without any special preparations. Any set of sensitive ears hooked up to a sensibly sensible brain and mind will open up the world of In Freundschaft to the splendor of Stephens garlands of spiraling clarinet tones, in waves and vibrations of compressions from the shifting pillar of air inside her instrument.
The special art of listening that you can practice and train, leads to a deepened and furthered act of hearing, though, and is strongly recommended to those who care very much for music and their perception of it - and I suppose you wouldnt read this if you werent one of those! It is rewarding on many levels. As always in Stockhausens music, there are many different levels of possible listening, and like the characters in Herman Hesses novels you can develop a deeper understanding by evolving through level after level. This quality of Stockhausens music, which always inspires to deeper study and more attentive listening, separates it from all other compositional acts that I have come across, and makes his music so much more meaningful, with implications that go well beyond any purely musical border lines that restrain most other composers, making Stockhausens music a universal music, opening up unknown worlds and connecting them in intricate, transparent patterns to our immediate local intellectual, emotional and spiritual neighborhood, in experiences wherein the distant and unknown feels familiar, and the familiar and well-known, on the other hand, strange and wonderful. His music is always, in a way, an educative event; a spiritual refining act. This quality immerses his compositional work, his rehearsals with the musicians - and the minds of those who listen!
Suzanne Stephens 1978
(Photo: Ralph Fassey. Adaption: Ingvar Loco Nordin)
The beginning of In Freundschaft exposes the formula for the whole work. The formula has five limbs, separated by pauses.
A trill is developed in the middle register by a gradual accelerando on the last interval of the fifth limb; the minor second. This trill is entrusted the modus operandi of the whole composition.
The Formel the formula enters in three layers, and the circumstance that demands a special art of listening mentioned above is at hand. An alternation between the limbs with a tranquil, soft and high layer, and the limbs with a fast, loud and low layer takes place around the trill segments residing in a middle layer. All pitches relate to this middle layer.
A trained ear, combined with a focused attention, will discover the relations of the layers. The high and low layers are indeed reflections of each other in time and space. A score at hand is very helpful to determine this at the first run-throughs. Stockhausen describes in the CD booklet how the layers move chromatically towards each other in seven stages, exchanging limbs and uniting to form a continuous melody in the same register. At two points the musician breaks out in enthusiastic cadenzas. Stockhausen also says that in some places the tempo is slowed down so much, or a pitch constellation repeated so fast, that it becomes possible to perceive the finest details of the formula, and the beauty of the sound causes one to forget the development for a moment.
Then Stockhausen summarizes the piece in this sentence: Clear differentiation, relation to a common and constant center, exchange, approaching one another, movement of lively ascending elements towards the end of the formula: IN FRIENDSHIP.
A wind instrument like the clarinet or the basset-horn is very closely connected to the body of the performer, of the human being. It works simply as an extension of the person and the personality, and the spirit of the person playing. It is the breath of the player that pours into the instrument, and therefore the active force of that human being, her spirit, is especially apparent, as is also the case with vocal music, with singing. There is an immediacy here, very tender, almost vulnerable, always close-up.
Traum-Formel (Dream Formula) for basset-horn is the second work on No. 27 of the Edition. It is a short piece with its barely 8 minutes. It starts off with a prolonged and elaborated, repeated note, bringing me reminiscences of Klezmer recordings of the 1920s, or the intense soloistic efforts of a Mosaic Central European and Middle Eastern also Russian tradition by Dror Feiler on his CD Celestial Fire, where Mr. Feiler improvises on different kinds of saxophones in glowing little pieces like Hallel and Sei Yabe. The fire, the small-scale playfulness is inherent also in Stockhausens Traum-Formel, brilliantly conveyed by the masterly musicianship and pure identification of Suzanne Stephens. The instrument itself gives off some side-effect-sounds from the valves, and the nearness is stark and naked in this music, which dances blotting-paper-close to your body.
Stockhausen challenges the listener by stating: Listeners to DREAM FORMULA for basset-horn can find out how much they can actually hear: five polyphonic lines clearly separated by the basset-horns four octaves by different pitches, timbres, ways of playing, rhythms are drawn through time by the instrument in alternating fragments of melody (like dotted lines). Starting at about the middle of the piece, this process is repeated with variations. Two lyrical moments briefly stops time.
I think Stockhausen is unnecessarily modest in the last statement. Ive found myself to be oblivious of time in many of his pieces, throughout his unparalleled oeuvre. When you really get inside his music you are elevated to a certain state of mind, a certain frameset of pan-human impressions, where time is a parameter which does exist on a certain level - and which Stockhausen utilizes in a seemingly breezy and light, causal way - but which doesnt suggest any limits or borders any longer, but opens up to a serene freedom!
Amour is the concluding work of No. 27 of the Stockhausen Edition. Amour is in fact a common name for a whole group of small compositions. The subtitle is 5 pieces for clarinet. The pieces are: Sei wieder frölich (Cheer up!) / Dein Engel wacht über Dir (Your angel is watching over you) / Die Schmetterlinge spielen (The butterflies are playing) / Ein Vögelin singt an Deinem Fenster (A little bird sings at your window) / Vier Sterne weisen Dir den Weg (Four stars show you the way).
All these pieces are Stockhausens musical gifts to certain persons, and the common title of the set for sure indicates that the recipients all are very dear to Professor Stockhausen. Another indication that Stockhausen regards these smaller pieces as important is that he explains them so well and in such detail in the CD booklet.
The first melody Sei wieder frölich was presented to Suzanne Stephens in 1974. Its a tenderly opening miniature, rolling out a carpet of loving music for the sorrowful lady to tread on. Im sure it did cheer her up when she needed some consolation and inspiration.
The other four pieces were composed as Christmas gifts in December 1976.
Dein Engel wacht über Dir was presented to Mary Stockhausen-Bauermeister. She is the mother of two of Stockhausens children, and has meant very much to Stockhausen, both privately and professionally (though those two aspects are inseparable in Stockhausen!). We may just remember how Originale grew out of animated conversations between Stockhausen and Bauermeister in Erik Tawaststjernas summer cottage on Lake Saimaa in a particularly enchanted part of Finland (drawing its spiritual significance on the old myths of the Kalevala) in the summer of 1961, opening the Fluxus movement. (Finland was a haven for all kinds of diligent people of the arts at the beginning of their deeds in the early 1960s. Terry Riley was there, and Folke Rabe, Ken Dewey [Dancers Workshop] and others as well.)
We may also recall the significance that Bauermeisters art had for Stockhausen (and vice versa) as they spent a few months in Baron Francesco Agnellos palazzo in Sicily in early 1962, where Stockhausen began his very important work Momente, in the one room that the couple retreated into, to get out of the cold.
June night at Lake Saimaa, Finland:
Poet Sune Karlsson & novelist Sirkka Laine
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)
These stories of the couple Stockhausen-Bauermeister have now moved into the realm of myths and beautiful sagas, and a special luster radiates from them, the same way the Icelandic Tales or the epic poems on the evasive Aino and Old Väinämöinen and the Loving Mother of Lemminkäinen (out of Kalevala) convey an atmosphere of human relationships charged with meaning and symbolism in handed-down traditions, appearing as integrated symbolic parts of hanging tapestries on the walls over the kitchen sofas in many a Northern Scandinavian country house, where the scent of freshly made coffee and the newly cut birch twigs for the sauna blend in a heightened sense of life and spirit as the call of the Cuckoo resounds out of the open bays of Lake Saimaa in the light summer nights of northern latitudes.
At lake Saimaa, Finland:
Novelist Sirkka Laine & Icon paintress Suoma
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)
Stockhausen describes the piece for Mary Stockhausen-Bauermeister (Dein Engel wacht über Dir) as a dialogue between a low soft voice of irregular long tones and another voice two octaves higher, loud and regular, fast, penetrating, admonishing. He goes on describing the events of the piece: They [the two voices] approach one another, meet exactly in the middle at a loud flutter-tongued tone and unite. The resulting single voice quickly expands and pulsates once at the lower extreme with a chromatic figure which is repeated several times before reaching the bottom note, then flies to the register two octaves higher, where it stands still as a little dance begins.
Im sure the construction of the piece has to do with the relationship between Bauermeister and Stockhausen and the immense meaning this evidently has had, but I would not dwell further on that, since it belongs in the privacy of a man and a woman. I know, however, that Time as a succession along a linear movement means nothing to Stockhausen, but that he rather sees Time as moving spirally, resulting in the concept that all that happens and which has happened has the same immediacy, the same closeness; that it doesnt get diminished or blurred by the passage of Time. This concept may also explain how Stockhausen seems to care equally for people that he for one reason or another has terminated his immediate relationships with, like former spouses and so on. He seems to encompass all people who have meant much to him with an equal care and consideration, no matter when the close relationships actually were peaking in Time.
An interesting aspect on this is found in Stockhausens Texte zur Musik band 6, in an interview conducted in Budapest by Bálint András Varga of the Hungarian Television on October 7th 1984. Varga commented on the two works Hymnen and Harlekin which Stockhausen had brought with him, and asked the Professor if he was the same person at the time of the interview as he was when he composed those works.
Stockhausen replied: I remember that Stockhausen. He is as familiar to me, as if I had met him last night.
Stockhausen goes on to discuss the nature of his memories, which are very clear from the age of 2 until this day, and he says: For these memories there is no Time. They are like a house all simultaneous, stored vertically and behind each other.
Later on in the interview Stockhausen says: I do not believe that there is a directional History [linear], not even in an individuals life. On the contrary, all aspects of my works appear to me rather in a circle or a spiral, and not along a line. Subsequently, I do not say: What I have done 10 years ago, I will not do anymore, or what I have done 30 or 35 years ago, I will no longer do. Instead, all moments are for me valid possibilities, like the pieces of a mosaic. All is more like a whirl in my consciousness, mixing in my consciousness, instead of threaded on a chain.
Further on in this interview Stockhausen states: I always have the feeling that I have hit several billiard balls which roll somewhere, where after they rebound and return to me, requiring me to hit them once again, causing new constellations to appear. My whole life is a big reservoir of possibilities, which I at any time can revive.
One of the longer pieces of Amour is Die Schmetterlinge spielen, presented to Jaynee Stephens, the younger sister of Suzanne Stephens. The beginning conveys to me the vision of the young lady rushing almost flying - up and down a staircase in a lighthearted and eager mood. The clicks of the valves of the clarinet sound like light and fast footsteps. This immediate and rather banal association might not be so off, after all, since Stockhausen describes the lady in these wordings: Jaynee plays the flute, loves delicate colors, silk, jewelry, perfume, grasses, flowers, all things quiet and secret, silence. She adores flying [sic!], can remain still in the sunlight for an unbelievably long time and, in an enchanting way, attract other butterflies to a flirtation.
Maybe the clicks of the clarinet valves are lightning-fast reflections of the pearly eyes of the butterflies as they dance across the old Bronze Age burial mounds of the meadow?
Stockhausen says about the piece: The play of a pair of butterflies one with a beat of wide intervals in triplets, the other one more nimble, lighter, higher, in fast duplets of small intervals can be followed in the alternation of almost chromatic melodic lines.
The playing of Suzanne Stephens is outright magnificent!
Ein Vögelin singt an Deinem Fenster was presented to the soloist here, Suzee Stephens. As clearly as ever, the melodic line is that of an imaginary bird; the kind you find in fairytales, always possessing magical powers to transcend the listener, even to the point of understanding the language of the birds, the squirrels, the hedgehogs and the small ones of the forest, the little secretive ones beneath the leaves and behind the rocks, under the fern, feasting on blueberries, intoxicating themselves on mushrooms...
Stockhausen says on the piece: Out of a quick bird melody, full of trills and flutter-tonguing, stretching in wide intervals over the entire range of the clarinet after three stages of exchanges, contrasts, compression and slowing down there evolves a very calm, soft, unembellished human melody.
Vier Sterne weisen Dir den Weg was given to Stockhausens first wife, Doris Stockhausen-Andreae, with whom Stockhausen has four children; Suja, Christel, Markus and Majella. Of course, the four stars of the title are the children. This piece is the longest of the five melodies of Amour with its 8 minutes and 31 seconds. The beginning comes across exactly like Terry Rileys Untitled Organ recorded in New York City in 1966 on a harmonium. Im sure this was not intentional at all, but it is almost magical the way the sound of the clarinet with the clicks of the valves is almost identical with the sound of the harmonium and the clicks of Rileys fingernails on the single-handed keyboard! The illusionary, repetitive minimalistic melody (a four-note formula) even the pace is identical too, for half a minute, but then the similarities end for the moment, as Stockhausens piece slows down, though still repeating the same little sequence (formula) over and over again, and in fact, after a while, speeding up again, moving into notes held longer, again returning to the Rileyish atmosphere, and so on.
Stockhausen & Suzanne Stephens 1985
(Photo: Clive Barda)
Stockhausen: A four-note formula slurred and soft, with a tritone as its central interval whirrs in the low register, slows down, takes on rhythm as each pitch receives its own duration, becomes even slower and loses its slurs, becomes increasingly staccato and loud and perforated by rests. The second pitch shifts up a minor second, thus changing the central interval into a fourth, the formula accelerates, becomes increasingly slurred, loses its rhythm, grows soft, then suddenly stands loud, bright and with long durations two octaves higher, in the sky. A second four-note formula, with the fourth as its central interval, similarly develops and alters, the fourth becoming a major third, then, two octaves higher, appears three times with varied durations and once again like the first of these three, but with a trill on the first pitch. A third four-note formula unrolls, changes its central interval from a major into a minor third, then rolls itself up again, jumps up three octaves, becomes loud with molto vibrato and is extended, becomes four times as fast, then eight times as fast, is continued by a short dispute between the original and the altered central pitch and appears once more, broadly with flutter-tongue, then plunges in cascades to become the soft, fourth four-note formula, with the minor third as its central interval, which unfolds like the previous ones, takes on rhythm, slows down, changes its central interval into a major second with comical glissandi, and imprints the falling minor second in the memory with a long drawn-out echo.
Stockhausen has reprinted many clarifying examples from the scores of the different pieces in the booklet, referring to them in his text.
The very personal character of especially the pieces of Amour lends a special atmosphere of heartening tenderness and loving care to this issue.