I'm buying Liebner's piano set as a Christmas gift, so I've been listening a lot to her interpretation and comparing with Kontarsky and Tudor. (Don't yet have Corver's!)
My impression is that they are all complementary and listening to just one doesn't give the full picture of the piano works. Particularly Liebner's radical choice of playing the pieces slowly really brings out the poetry of the music at the cost of the rhythms. I think it does work combined with her excellent playing.
What do people think of Liebner's interpretation? Also how does the Corver set which I don't have compare with the rest? I hear great things about it but also I'm living on student loan money right now ahaha
For me, the Corver version is the one that seems to have all the good things you hear in the others, and more. She plays with such poetry, such musicality, but also with such strength and muscularity where it is needed. For me, she is the one, more than anyone else, who brings out the life of the music together with the astonishing sense of structure and form that Stockhausen wrote into each piece. Her love and respect for the music comes across at every point, every bar. It has taken me a lot longer to get to like Liebner's performances, but I think that may well be because of the slow tempi she typically uses and this was so different from what I had come to know and expect that it was hard to hear them on their own terms. But, once I can put my own expectations aside, I do find, as you suggest, a certain poetry there that is very characteristic of her playing, and brings a special type of magic to her version. But I do think, ultimately, you will also find that poetry in Corver. I know the cost can be daunting, but it's really well worth saving for!! These pieces of Stockhausen are so full of ideas and, well, of music, that they can, I believe, not only accommodate different approaches but really be illuminated by them. I envy the person receiving your gift!
Alright so I now have the Corver set and I have listened to the music. I am very impressed with the quality of the recordings and in several of the works her interpretation seems to be definitive. However I have one gripe with her performance. My favourite part of the piano pieces is the section from 17:32 to 18:23 in KLAVIERSTÜCK VI. Corver starts it well but from 18:12 to 18:13 there seems to be a mess of notes, whereas both Liebner and Kontarsky play this with clarity. Hopefully this is just an initial impression since Corver's playing is otherwise very good and I'd like to use this as my main recording of the piano pieces. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?
I hadn't had a chance to check out the section you referred to, but I'm glad her approach is growing on you. I think her interpretation, more than anyone else, has been able both to find the poetry in the music and to cope seemingly effortlessly with the technical demands. I think Kontarsky is wonderful, but I just prefer Ellen Corver. I can listen to her recordings over and over again, and it always sounds so new and fresh.
If you ever get a chance to get her recording of MANTRA (with Sepp Grotenhuis, on TMD) then I think you would be very thrilled with that. Unfortunately, it's no longer in catalogues, so it can be hard to find - but it could be worth contacting the Stockhausen Foundation and asking them if they have any copies available, which they sometimes do. I think this was also Stockhausen's preferred recording of MANTRA but there were some contract issues that prevented it being released on the Verlag label (I think - I've forgotten the full details). It really is a masterpiece recording of a masterpiece work!
I have heard Ellen Corver give lectures about MANTRA and have watched her teaching it to other musicians. Her love of, and respect for, the music is always so palpable.
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!