Originating in 1969 with a short melodic fragment that grew into an elaborate piece that runs well over an hour, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mantra for two pianos and electronics is recognized as one of his major keyboard works and an example of his increasingly liberal use of serial methods. The central idea operates on many levels throughout the composition, and the organization of Stockhausen's 13-pitch series -- a twelve-tone row with the first note repeated at the end -- takes place on small and large scales, with some permutations of the motive or "mantra" extending over so much time that their relationships become imperceptible. Yet in spite of its seemingly daunting process and complex structures, Mantra is one of Stockhausen's more accessible pieces, for his harmonic choices are not especially harsh or tiring on the ear, and the airiness of his textures, the pleasantly blurred electronics, and the many soft, diaphanous tremolo passages make this one of the most attractive late avant-garde compositions. The performance by pianists Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer, with former Stockhausen assistant Jan Panis providing the electronics, was supervised by the composer, and the use of digital sound production brings the music up to date for the 21st century.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Mantra, for two pianists|