ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Stockhausen - Tierkreis

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St. Peter's Art Station Organ
KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN - Tierkreis (Zodiac) - Dominick Susteck (Organ) - 4010228673623 - Released: July 2011 - Wergo WER67362

This work from 1975 by avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockausen (1928-2007), was originally scored for music boxes but it has been performed and recorded on a variety of solo instruments including the piano, piccolo and bassoon, as well as small chamber groups. Dominick Susteck sheds new light on it by performing it on the pipe organ. But not just any pipe organ. This 'live' recording took place on the Special Organ for New Music located in St. Peter's church in Cologne, also known as St. Peter's Art Station. It is a large 104 register organ which includes innovative stops such as the harp, saxophone, cello, Aeolian harp, howlers, sirens, rooster calls, whistles, cymbals, chimes, drums, crotales, xylophone, and vibrating aluminum rods. Even the steeple bells can be activated from the console. There are plans in the works to expand the instrument by adding new sounds including metal and stone plates (weighing tons) with a range of two octaves. Furthermore, this organ is equipped with midi capability which allows for recording and digital alteration of the sounds in real time, and a flexible air source that permits graduated changes in dynamics and pitch. It's the only one of its kind in the world.

Tierkreis is a work in twelve short episodes based on the twelve signs of the zodiac. Characterized by simple and repetitive melodies flanked by unusual harmonies and start-stop rhythms, it is the sound world each piece inhabits that matters more than the music itself. As in the work Stop Playing by composer Wolfgang Mitterer, this composition uses the pipe organ as a sound generating machine. Years ago experimental composers were trying to emulate the sound of the pipe organ through the use of computers and synthesizers, and now Mitterer and Stockhausen, or in this case organist Dominick Susteck, are emulating the sound of a computer through the use of a pipe organ.

Inserted between every group of three star signs, are Improvisations by Dominick Susteck which take even better advantage of this instrument's capabilities. As a matter of fact, in some instances, if you were asked to guess as to which instrument this music was played on, your first choice would never be a pipe organ. These pieces almost provide a mystical journey into the spatial world of sound generation. They present the imagined, but unheard sounds of the spiritual world.

If you happen to be a fan of avant-garde or electro-acoustic music you would like this CD. If you happen to be a fan of pipe organ music and are always on the lookout for rarely recorded or unusual instruments, you would like this CD. If you happen to be a die-hard fan of both avant-garde and pipe organ music (anything is possible), than you will play this CD over and over again. It definitely proves that pipe organs are not cobwebbed and dust covered relics of the past.

Jean-Yves Duperron - September 2011