Theatre of Voices / Paul Hillier

Stockhausen: Stimmung

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Stockhausen: Stimmung Review

by Timothy Dickey

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 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 02:49 Amazon
2 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:33 Amazon
3 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:23 Amazon
4 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:37
5 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:25
6 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:19 Amazon
7 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:13 Amazon
8 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:57 Amazon
9 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:14 Amazon
10 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:54 Amazon
11 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 02:00 Amazon
12 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:32 Amazon
13 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:15 Amazon
14 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:23 Amazon
15 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:36 Amazon
16 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:53 Amazon
17 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:59 Amazon
18 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:26 Amazon
19 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:15 Amazon
20 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:51 Amazon
21 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:47 Amazon
22 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:58 Amazon
23 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:50
24 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:44
25 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:30 Amazon
26 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:59 Amazon
27 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:00 Amazon
28 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 03:12
29 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:59
30 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:45 Amazon
31 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:49
32 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 02:48
33 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:15 Amazon
34 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:11 Amazon
35 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:28
36 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:32
37 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 02:04 Amazon
38 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:10 Amazon
39 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:52 Amazon
40 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:21
41 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:03
42 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:34 Amazon
43 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 04:24 Amazon
44 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:53
45 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:24
46 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 02:00 Amazon
47 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:00
48 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 01:09
49 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:37
50 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 00:45 Amazon
51 Paul Hillier / Theatre of Voices 04:59
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