Stockhausen: Momente

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COMPOSERS: Stockhausen
LABELS: Stockhausen
WORKS: Momente
PERFORMER: Gloria Davy (soprano), Roger Smalley, Harold Bojé (electric organs); WDR Cologne Choir, Musica Vivante/Karlheinz Stockhausen
CATALOGUE NO: Complete Edition 7 A-B AAD
Momente is among Stockhausen’s more complex works. Parts of it were performed in 1962 and 1965 but he finished the score only in 1969. This CD reissue comprises the same material as the previous DG three-LP set: a complete Momente from 1972 plus a 30-minute extract from the 1965 concert.

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Momente is notable for Stockhausen’s use of both ‘mobile form’, whereby the order of certain sections can be varied, and ‘moment form’, in which a piece is constructed from brief, independent musical units. In Momente these units are divided into ‘K-moments’, ‘M-moments’ and ‘D-moments’, which emphasise timbre, melody and rhythm respectively, and are each represented by different voices and instruments. Most of Momente’s moments are actually created from various combinations of these three basic types and their respective sounds, so the score is like a network of fleeting echoes and allusions.

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Momente is also a meditation on love, using texts (sung mostly in German) from many sources. A key quotation is William Blake’s ‘He who kisses the joy as it flies/Lives in eternity’s sunrise’, an apt sentiment for ‘moment form’, with its emphasis on the now. Though a very dramatic work, full of abrupt excitements, exclamations and splashes of humour, Momente may initially seem hard-going, its new methods of composition calling for new ways to listen. Twenty years on, I can say the effort is definitely worthwhile! Graham Lock