Monday, August 3, 2009

you vs. Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gruppen/Carre - Gruppen, for three orchestras, is like being soundly defeated in a tighly orchestrated and blatantly fixed wrestling coup against the notorious Viennese tag team of Webern, Berg and Schoenberg, all at once. You are fucked; not only has the referee been paid off to allow this to happen, but he is in fact behind the whole this whole show whose purpose is to no only pummel you with bewildering music but to also make his three cohorts look like bullies. Each has their particular moves with which they thrash you: Webern with quick little jabs, Berg with wildly flourished haymaker swings, and Schoenberg, the grand old man who taught 'em everything they know, with an old fashioned but effective body slam. You might have been able to take any one of these alone, but under the sinister, chuckling control of the referee, you are left to simply take it and enjoy the spectacle.

Carre, for FOUR orchestras and choir is a less rambunctious affair; more like being surrounded, stared down, and put to trial by a circle of jurors who have a foregone conclusion in mind for you, but also enjoy the ardor of the trial, the due process, the calls and repeats, the process. There is no real hope of finding you innocent and any defense to this elaborate pageant of arbitration is futile, and frankly gets in teh way of seeing the wheels of a terrible machine in motion.

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