Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Suzanne Stephens
No. 44: AMOUR, Five Pieces for Clarinet
1976 [26']

No. 44 1/2 (44.2) - AMOUR, Version for Flute, 1981 [29']
No. 44 3/4 (44.4) - AMOUR, Version for Saxophone, 2003 [29']
No. 44 2/3 (44.3) - AMOUR, VIER STERNE (Four Stars) for Cello, 1998 [12']

AMOUR is a collection of 5 pieces for solo clarinet.  The earliest, "Sei wieder fröhlich" ("Cheer up!"), was written as a gift to his clarinet collaborator Suzanne Stephens on December 12, 1974.  The other works were written as Christmas gifts to members of Stockhausen's family and friends in 1976.

The timings below are from the recorded version by Suzanne Stephens on Stockhausen Edition CD 27.
All score samples ©

1. "Sei wieder fröhlich" ("Cheer up!") is a short lyrical work which takes up only 4 ledger lines and lasts about a minute and a half.  The first 12 notes form a lyrical melody which is elaborated on 4 times.  A brief interlude interrupts before a 5th variation surfaces.  The piece is wrapped up with a patient coda.

2. "Dein Engel wacht über Dir" ("Your angel is watching over you") was written for Stockhausen's second wife, artist Mary Bauermeister.
This piece opens with a dialogue between a high, loud, fast voice, and a slow, soft voice 2 octaves lower.
This dialogue comes together in a flutter-tongued note, becoming a tremolo. (at 1:46) 

Soon, the intervals expand and contract into a repeating ostinato figure (2:24),
followed with a low held tone and an ascending scale (2:39).

A "little dance" ends the piece.

3. Die Schmetterlinge spielen ("The Butterflies are playing") was written for Jaynee Stephens, Suzanne Stephens' sister.  Two butterflies are represented by alternating wide triplet-based tremolo phrases (ascending position) and faster trill phrases (descending position).  The "flights" of these 2 butterflies are separated by brief interludes ("sitting on one pitch"). 
Two butterflies as a fast trill section alternating with slower triplet-based tremolo section, with pauses in between (excerpt above from 0:52)
 They have 6 "encounters":
1. "electrifying" (at 1:24)
...afterwards the faster duple butterfly becomes more aggressive
2. "nervous" (2:33)
...then wide alternating loops
3. "emphatic" (3:36)"
...then gradual approach in registers
4. "frolicking" (4:06)
...then short alternating flights
5. "cool, purposeful" (4:33)
...then contrary motion,
a long flight by the fast butterfly,
a short flight by the slow butterfly
6. "tender, playful" (4:56)
...then both sit still with occasional (wing) beats

Finally they share a "harmonious union" (slow butterfly with large intervals, faster butterfly small intervals, flying together).
"harmonious union"(6:17)
large and small intervals, fast tremoli

4. Ein Vöglein singt an Deinem Fenster ("A little bird sings at your window") was written for Suzanne Stephens.  This piece is to remind her of her childhood clarinet dialogues with a small tit bird.  It begins with a "bird melody" characterized by trills, flutter-tongue and wide intervals.
"Bird melody" on first line.  Melody cycle starts on last note of 1st line.
A new melodic formula is traversed in 3 cycles (starting at 0:15, 0:51, and 1:29) with "compression, contrast, exchange" and tempo variation (separated by long rests).  The work ends when a 4th cycle (at 2:24) changes to "a very calm, soft, unembellished human melody".
Ending measures - "a very calm, soft, unembellished human melody".

5. Vier Sterne weisen Dir den Weg ("Four stars show you the way") was written for Stockhausen's first wife, Doris Stockhausen-Andreae.  The 4 stars (representing their 4 children) are played as four 4-note melodic figures which change and "grow" as they get "older".  Basically, each pattern starts fast and legato, slows down until it becomes a staccato rhythmic figure, changes an internal interval, speeds up to legato again, and finally ends on a high register fanfare.

Melody 1:
Melody is soft, low, legato, tritone intervals, slows down and becomes a staccato rhythm,
1 interval changes to major 3rd, accelerates back into legato, ends " the sky".
Melody 2 (at 2:02): 
Perfect 4th intervals, slows down and becomes a staccato rhythm, 1 interval changes to major 3rd...

...ascends 2 octaves and repeats with varied rhythms and trill attacks.

Melody 3: (4:08)
A central interval of a major 3rd, slows to staccato, 1 interval changes to minor 3rd, speeds up...
...jumps 3 octaves with loud vibrato,
has a "dispute" between the minor and major 3rd interval...

...flutter-tongue, then descending cascade into Melody 4
Melody 4: (6:25)
Soft, minor 3rd intervals, slows down into a rhythm, 1 interval changes to major 2nd...
...ascends to high register with glissandi,
ending with a long minor 2nd "echo".

Sound Impressions
     AMOUR is wonderful quintet of wind pieces which shows Stockhausen's more lyrical, evocative side (more, at least, in the traditional sense). The pieces range from poetic, almost Debussy-like, to virtuosic showpieces which would fit in a program with some of jazz saxophonist Anthony Braxton or Evan Parker's solo works. The versions for flute by Kathinka Pasveer and saxophone by Julien Petit reveal additional shadings and colors of these enchanting solo works.

Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
Four stars show you the way (Youtube clip)

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