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Album Review

Stockhausen, Karlheinz – “Tierkreis/Zodiac ” – [Wergo]

Max Level   1/8/2006   A Library, CD

One of Stockhausen’s more accessible works, for bass clarinet, trombone, accordion, percussion, cello, and double bass. A calm and mostly peaceful combination of composed parts and improvisation, in 12 zodiac-related sections. Two versions of it here, so 12 x 2 = 24 tracks. Version 1 is the ensemble playing the 12 sections by the book. Version 2 is Version 1 played back on tape while the players improvise along with it. The liner notes explain that the track order blends the two versions (tracks 1-3 are from Version 2, Tracks 4-9 from Version 1, 10-12 from Version 2, etc?) but don’t explain why it’s sequenced that way instead of a more logical 1-12 and then 13-24. Some kind of astral math, no doubt. The piece also uses 12 specially-built music boxes, playing the melodies of the 12 sections. I really grew to like this, and I think you will too if you’re into avant-garde composition and/or improv music.

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