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Stockhausen: Gruppen; Kurtag: Grabstein, Stele / Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic


Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 447761   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karlheinz StockhausenGyörgy Kurtág
Performer:  Jürgen Ruck
Conductor:  Friedrich GoldmannClaudio AbbadoMarcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 45 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

No mere technical exercise, Gruppen is a marvelous display piece, and the Berlin brass and percussion rise to the occasion under the well-prepared guidance of Abbado and his two colleagues.

Experiencing Stockhausen's Gruppen in the concert-hall — or on television, as in Channel 4's film of the 1996 CBSO performance — tends to underline the spatial separation of the three orchestral groups. On disc, even with resplendently spacious DG sound, it is the interdependence of those separate instrumental bodies that is most vividly apparent. What we hear is less a matter of three distinct and variously superimposed musical strata as a three-way discourse around shared material, an exhilarating voyage of discovery, during which
Read more separation comes to count for less than the common purpose of exploring the same essential premises from different angles.

The greatest virtue of this performance is that it manages to preserve the music's sense of exploratory excitement alongside a proper concern for precision and textural clarity. No mere technical exercise, Gruppen is a marvellous display piece, and it is the Berlin brass and percussion who have the lion's share of the limelight, rising to the occasion under the well-prepared guidance of Abbado and his two colleagues.

A fine performance of such an important, seriously neglected modern score is reason enough to rejoice, but this disc has another pair of aces up its sleeve, with the first recordings of two works by György Kurtág. Both are musical memorials, but they are very different in character. Grabstein für Stephan is like a ghostly echo of a Mahler funeral march, often barely audible, with a pair of shattering outbursts at its centre to intensify the prevailing aura of despair and regret.

Stele is more monumental. From its opening, distinctly Beethovenian sonority, it proceeds with a grandeur and determination that transcends grief and reasserts enduring human values. Stele may not have a happy ending, but its strength of character and power of expression enable it to function as a celebration of humanity as well as a profound meditation on mortality.

-- Gramophone [3/1997]
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Works on This Recording

1. Gruppen by Karlheinz Stockhausen
Conductor:  Friedrich Goldmann,  Claudio Abbado,  Marcus Creed
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955-1957; Germany 
2. Grabstein for Stephan, Op 15c by György Kurtág
Performer:  Jürgen Ruck (Guitar)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Hungary 
3. Stele, Op. 33 by György Kurtág
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 

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