- Jan Panis (Electronics)
Notes & Reviews:
Mantra, for two pianos with ring modulation, was a watershed in Stockhausen's development. Composed in 1970, it was the work that not only signalled his return to composing fully notated music after almost a decade in which "intuitive" techniques, using graphic and verbal scores, became more and more important, but it also introduced the use of a musical formula, the "mantra" of the title, from which every pitch and rhythmic element of the composition is derived by transformation. It was the way that Stockhausen would compose for the rest of his life, and his enormous opera cycle Licht would be based on it.
Karlheinz Stockhausen recalled that one day in September 1969 "I had the idea of one single musical figure or formula that would be expanded over a very long period of time... I wrote down this melody on an envelope." Thus was born 'Mantra', the first mature example of Stockhausen's "formula" technique which was to dominate his output until his death in 2007. Effectively a trio including a sound projectionist, 'Mantra' retains a good deal of freedom, transcendental mysticism and playful, abandoned inventiveness within its quasi-serialist approach. This recording is the first to use digital technology, with equipment specially designed by Stockhausen's former assistant Jan Panis, and approved by the composer.
"In Mantra, though, he is already using the technique with supreme virtuosity - writing for the two pianos is wonderfully imaginative, and climaxes in an extraordinary section that compresses the hour of music heard to that point into just five frantic minutes. The electronic ring modulation adds another layer, sometimes just subtly enhancing the piano timbres, sometimes adding a much more astringent edge. This is the first recording on which those effects have been achieved digitally, and they seem more prominent than one remembers from earlier versions or from live performances. There's perhaps more wit - musical slapstick sometimes - in the piece than Pascal Meyer and Xenia Pestova suggest, but Stockhausen's humour was always an acquired taste, and this is a highly accomplished presentation of one of the landmark pieces in the second half of the 20th century." -The Guardian (*****)
It was gratifying to see - and hear - Naxos's first disc of Stockhausen. There's no doubt that an appearance on this label gives a composer an entrée into a far wider market than most labels can offer. The choice of Mantra for what, I hope, will be a long series was a judicious one: a big work but not massively complex (or expensive) to mount. Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer deliver technically excellent, musically rewarding, and committed performances; the essential third person, Jan Panis, in charge of the electronics, provides a rich world of modulated piano sounds...
Recording information: Espace Découverte, Philharmonie Luxembourg (09/07/2009-09/10/2009).
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Works DetailsStockhausen, Karlheinz : Mantra, for 2 pianos with percussion & electronics
- Performer: Jan Panis (Electronics)
- Ensemble: Pestova-Meyer Piano Duo
- Notes: Espace Découverte, Philharmonie Luxembourg (09/07/2009-09/10/2009)
- Period Time: Modern
- Written: 1970