Theatre of Voices / Paul Hillier

Stockhausen: Stimmung

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Though Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung (Tuning) for six solo voices may be one of his most accessible pieces, relatively few commercial recordings of the hour-long "meditation on a chord" exist. Collegium Vocale premiered the work in 1968, and subsequently took their interpretation -- known now as the "Paris version" -- on the road and into the studio. Singcircle presented a slightly different sonic reading in the mid-'70s; Paul Hillier himself was a part of that recording. Yet in the maturity of his career, Hillier in 2006 decided to approach Stockhausen's iconic vocal work afresh, and prepared the so-called "Copenhagen version"; it is this new version heard on the CD. Hillier has changed nothing of Stockhausen's score, from the Form Diagram of the overall piece to the guidelines for each voice's rendition of the 51 "models." Hillier has, with his ensemble Theatre of Voices, reconsidered the pacing and aural interpretation of the work. Hearing the performance, there is still over an hour's worth of vocal exploration: shifting patterns within the six pitches of the fundamental ninth chord, and the kaleidoscope of the singers' phonetic permutations. But this recording (with credit both to Hillier and to his sound engineers) adds a heightened sense of the physical overtones that had been so important to the composer's invention (Stockhausen claimed "listening to my vibrating skull" as a central feature during its composition). No recording, in this sense, can replace a live performance, yet often the critical "extra" overtone pitches pop out of the texture. The performance -- and its engineering -- also highlight the voices, which in each model are considered definitive of its identity. The vocal balance provides perhaps the only basis for criticism of the recording: the leading voices, along with the spoken text of erotic poetry and names of world deities, emerge from the surrounding textures almost too strongly. Nonetheless, Hillier's performance only adds to the aural understanding of one of the most inventive twentieth century composers.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Stimmung (Copenhagen version), for 6 vocalists
1 02:49 Amazon
2 01:33 Amazon
3 01:23 Amazon
4 01:37
5 01:25
6 01:19 Amazon
7 01:13 Amazon
8 00:57 Amazon
9 01:14 Amazon
10 00:54 Amazon
11 02:00 Amazon
12 01:32 Amazon
13 01:15 Amazon
14 01:23 Amazon
15 01:36 Amazon
16 00:53 Amazon
17 00:59 Amazon
18 01:26 Amazon
19 01:15 Amazon
20 00:51 Amazon
21 00:47 Amazon
22 01:58 Amazon
23 00:50
24 01:44
25 01:30 Amazon
26 00:59 Amazon
27 01:00 Amazon
28 03:12
29 01:59
30 00:45 Amazon
31 01:49
32 02:48
33 01:15 Amazon
34 01:11 Amazon
35 01:28
36 01:32
37 02:04 Amazon
38 01:10 Amazon
39 00:52 Amazon
40 01:21
41 01:03
42 01:34 Amazon
43 04:24 Amazon
44 00:53
45 01:24
46 02:00 Amazon
47 01:00
48 01:09
49 00:37
50 00:45 Amazon
51 04:59
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