I just bought CD 56 with the KLAVIERSTÜCKE and I emailed Kathinka Pasveer to ask what the most popular Stockhausen CDs were. I was initially expecting CDs 5 and 6 to lead the way with GRUPPEN and the trio version of KONTAKTE, but she said that CD 3 is the most popular followed by 9 and 10 and that the other CDs were all roughly equal in popularity. At first this surprised me but then I realised that it makes sense given most listeners are likely to be from an electronic music background as opposed to a classical music background. Not to mention that HYMNEN is very famous and is one of the works that is not available from other record labels. Thoughts?
That for me is interesting news. I would have thought, as you did, that CD 6 with KONTAKTE in the instrumental version would be the "hit". But CD 3 has the really striking electronical version of KONTAKTE and additionally GESANG, and that is really classical. I thought that also TIERKREIS would be popular. When Stockhausen worked on the orchestral version of TIERKREIS, I expected that many many orchestras would perform that, because it is rather conventional and you also could perform a selection of the work, but I totally failed. And what about "MICHAELs REISE"? As to KLAVIERSTÜCKE, I would think that the Sony-CDs with Kontarsky are comparably popular.
I feel a little common now, because 3 was the first I bought (along with 6), many years ago. It does not surprise me at al that 9 and 10 would also be very popular, for all the reasons already noted. Not long after buying 3 and 6, I bought 1 and 2, and then just decided to spend all my savings at the time and by the whole lot.
For me, one of the continually amazing things about Stockhausen's music is how he was always developing and exploring new ideas - still more so, I think, than any other composer. So there is such diversity across his entire oeuvre that different works can and do appeal to vastly different musical interests and, for that reason, I would have found it very hard to guess what would be the most popular.
I think the only sensible thing to do is buy everything, even if it means selling a few body parts to do so.
Hopefully one day I'll have them all! So far I've bought 56 and 9; next on my list will likely be 11, 83 and 106 since I'm not able to hear those recordings on the internet. Any reviews of these discs?
Well I can only give my own reviews, which is that they are all excellent, and that's quite a nice mix to be getting next.
11 (PROZESSION and CEYLON) are of course works where the performers play a very significant role in realising the score - the plus/minus symbols in PROZESSION; and CEYLON is from the second set of text-based intuitive music although, in its case, there is also a very detailed notated rhythm as well. They are both stellar performances, involving Stockhausen himself and musicians who he trusted and who knew what he was trying to achieve, so really great examples of this highly experimental phase of Stockhausen's writing.
CD 83 is magnificent - HIMMELFAHRT is the first part of KLANG and I find it utterly absorbing. It seems absurdly difficult to play to me, but then I don't have any of the talent of Antonio Perez Abellan who plays the keyboard part on that recording, where left and right hand are playing in different tempi. It is really an exciting and appropriately uplifting work, even ecstatic. The singers are magnificent.
And 106 is the 2003 version of MIXTUR, by which time Stockhausen had made many revisions to the original score. I never tire of that recording - the timbres in the orchestra, achieved through the ring modulation, are just astonishing but, of course, Stockhausen integrates it so well into the music that it is never gimmicky, which this sort of thing so easily could be in the hands of a lesser composer.
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!