The Stockhausen Complete Edition CDs, Part 1

Early Works, Serial Pieces, Electronic Music, Moment Form

     The best, most efficient way to hear Stockhausen's works is through his official record label and publishing house. The Stockhausen Edition CDs are meticulously assembled with often voluminous booklets in English and German, filled with sketches and other documentary artifacts. Almost all of the recordings originally released on Deutsche Grammophon, Wergo, Nonesuch and other labels were reacquired by Stockhausen, and then remastered and repackaged under the Stockhausen Edition catalog. Under the control of the Stockhausen Foundation, Stockhausen's recorded works will never go "out of print", making all of them available to the public.

     The CD Editions are organized mostly in historical order, although some volumes are focused on particular categories of chamber works (flute, winds, synth, trumpet, percussion, etc...), some concentrate on different renditions of a single composition, and some are new recordings of older works. A detailed, linked listing follows with links to the relevant analysis pages on the main site. All performances conducted by Karlheinz Stockhausen unless otherwise indicated. All of these discs can be purchased online through the Stockhausen official store. For historical purposes, I'll also include relevant original LP covers from previous releases.

     Stockhausen Edition CDs 1 through 10 are on this page (CDs 11 through 27 are on Page 2). These first 10 volumes contain early seminal works which put Stockhausen at the forefront of avant-garde vocal, instrumental, and electronic music. CDs 3 through 10 especially are indispensable, and undisputed classics of the genre.

1: This first volume of the Complete Edition highlights voice-driven "student works" and two chamber works. KREUZSPIEL is probably Stockhausen's first "key work". Although these works (and the ones from the following CD 2) were composed in the early 1950s, these performances are comprised of premier recordings from the 1970s.
  • CHÖRE für DORIS (CHORUSES for DORIS) for a cappella choir (1950) feat. the choir of the North German Radio Hamburg (NDR) with soprano Irmgard Jacobeit, rec. May 14, 1975.
  • CHORAL (CHORALE) for a cappella choir (1950) (same personnel as above).
  • DREI LIEDER (THREE SONGS) for alto voice and chamber orchestra (1950) feat. soloist Sylvia Anderson with the Southwest German Radio (SWR) Baden-Baden orchestra, rec. July 3rd, 1975.
  • SONATINE for violin and piano (1951) feat. Saschko Gawriloff (vln) and Aloys Kontarsky (pno), rec. Mar 22nd, 1976.
  • KREUZSPIEL (CROSS-PLAY) for oboe, bass clarinet, piano, and 3 percussionists (1951) feat. members of the London Sinfonietta, rec. Mar 21st, 1973.

2: Stockhausen's first orchestral commissions and the vibrant SCHLAGTRIO are featured on CD 2. PUNKTE is heard in its revised 1962 form here.

  • FORMEL (FORMULA) for orchestra (1951) feat. the SWR Baden-Baden orchestra, rec. Feb 1st, 1978.
  • SCHLAGTRIO (PERCUSSIVE TRIO) for piano and 2 x 3 timpani (1952) feat. Aloys Kontarsky (pno), Jean Batigne and Georges von Gucht (timp), rec. June 25/26th, 1976.
  • SPIEL (Game/ Play) for orchestra (1952) feat. the SWR Baden-Baden orchestra, rec. July 4/5 1973.
  • PUNKTE (POINTS) for orchestra (1952/1962) feat. the NDR Hamburg orchestra, rec. May 14/15, 1975.

3: This Edition features Stockhausen's first experiments with tape and electronic music from 1952-60. The electronic works were created at WDR, while ETUDE was assembled at the ORTF in France. GESANG DER JUNGLINGE is especially notable as it projects sampled fragments of a choir boy soloist's voice in space, singing a sacred text. KONTAKTE (another spatialized classic) is here the original, electronically-generated tape piece, but the popular electro-acoustic version (with piano and percussion accompaniment) can be found on CD 6.

4 features members of the London Sinfonietta, performing pieces from Stockhausen's Europe 1973 tour. KONTRA-PUNKTE and ZEITMASZE are highlights of Stockhausen's early serial method of composing in the 1950s, and true classics of the genre, while STOP and ADIEU employ more open forms. KONTR-PUNKTE has been recorded several times, but this version conducted by Stockhausen is the definitive version.
  • KONTRA-PUNKTE (COUNTER-POINTS) for 10 instruments (1952-53), rec. July 8, 1973.
  • ZEITMASZE (TIME-MEASURES) for 5 wood-winds (1955-56), rec. July 10/11, 1973.
  • STOP for orchestra (1965) "London Version 1973", rec. Mar 20, 1973.
  • ADIEU for wood-wind quintet (1966), rec. July 11, 1973.

5 contains two pivotal works employing three and four groups (respectively) of orchestral forces separated in space. GRUPPEN is Stockhausen's most famous orchestral work, as the orchestra groups are arranged to the left, right and front of the audience, resulting in a kind of simultaneous "battle of the bands" effect. It also features the unusual addition of an electric guitar to one of the groups.

  • GRUPPEN (GROUPS) for 3 orchestras (1955-57), feat. WDR orchestra conducted by Stockhausen, Bruno Maderna and Michael Gielen, rec. May 9, 1965.
  • CARRÉ ("Square") for 4 orchestras and 4 choir groups (1959-60), feat. the NDR choir & orchestra cond. by Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, Andrzej Markowski and Michael Gielen, rec. Oct 28, 1960.

6 features important early chamber works involving percussion, piano and celeste. Although David Tudor played on the premier 1960 recording of KONTAKTE, this 1968 performance features Aloys Kontarsky on piano. KONTAKTE is probably Stockhausen's most famous electro-acoustic work and a personal favorite. This Edition includes a bound book.
  • ZYKLUS (CYCLE) for a percussionist (1959), feat. Christoph Caskel, rec. Oct 12, 1960.
  • REFRAIN for three players (1959) feat. Christoph Caskel (perc), Aloys Kontarsky (pno) and Karlheinz Stockhausen (celesta), rec. July 11, 1968.
  • KONTAKTE (CONTACTS), version for electronic sounds, piano and percussion (1960) feat. Christoph Caskel (perc) & Aloys Kontarsky (pno), rec. July 7/8, 1968.

(This Wergo LP actually contains the 1960 recording with David Tudor and Christoph Caskel.
Earlier issues of the Kontarsky recording have very generic covers, sadly)

7 has two versions of the large-scale vocal, choir, brass and percussion work MOMENTE, spread over 3 CDs.
  • MOMENTE (MOMENTS) for soprano, 4 choir groups and 13 instrumentalists (1962-64/69)
    • Europe Version 1972, feat. soprano soloist Gloria Davy, the WDR Cologne choir, Roger Smalley and Harald Bojé (organs) and members of Musique Vivante, rec. Dec 10-12, 1972 and Jan 9-11, 1973.
    • Donaueschingen Version 1965, feat. soprano soloist Martina Arroyo, the WDR Cologne choir, Aloys & Alfons Kontarsky (organs) and members of Cologne Radio orchestra, rec. Oct 13-14, 1965.

8 contains forwards and backwards renditions of the electro-acoustic orchestral work MIXTUR. The piece is organized as 20 "Moments", and the sequencing of these Moments can be changed for different versions, two of which are presented here.
  • MIXTUR (MIXTURE) for 5 orchestra groups, 4 sine-wave generators, 4 ring modulators (1964/67) feat. orchestra Hudba Dneska cond. by Ladislav Kupkovic, rec. Aug 23, 1967.
    • Retrograde Version (1967 ver. for "small ensemble").
    • Forward Version (1967 ver. for "small ensemble").
     Prior to this release, the "Forward" version of MIXTUR had not been previously released on LP or CD.

9 features two works involving live electronics applied to percussion and voice, and one electronic music piece exploring the transformation of ethnic field music recordings through ring modulation.

  • MIKROPHONIE I (MICROPHONY I) (1964) for tam-tam, 2 microphones, 2 filters with potentiometers, feat. Aloys Kontarsky, Johannes G. Fritsch, Alfred Alings, Harald Bojé, Hugh Davies and Jaap Spek, rec. Dec 17/18, 1965. 
  • MIKROPHONIE II (MICROPHONY II) (1965) for ring-modulated choir triggered by organ, feat. the WDR choir, Studio Choir For New Music (Cologne) and Alfons Kontarsky on organ, rec. June 10, 1965. 
  • TELEMUSIK (TELEMUSIC) (Electronic Music) (1966), created at NHK studios in Tokyo, Jan 23-Mar 2, 1966.

10 contains the mammoth electronic music work HYMNEN, which uses signal processing as well as sound synthesis to create a soundscape based on recordings of national anthems of the world. In my opinion, HYMNEN is the peak of Stockhausen's electronic music achievements. A version with live soloists (utilizing open forms in their accompaniment) is also included in this 4 CD box set, as well as a bound book.
  • HYMNEN (ANTHEMS) Electronic and Concrete Music created 1966-67 at WDR Cologne.
  • HYMNEN with soloists Aloys Kontarsky (pno), Alfred Alings (tamtm), Rolf Gehlhaar (tamtm), Johannes G. Fritsch (vla), Harald Bojé (electronium), K. Stockhausen (filters).
     Prior to this release, the version of HYMNEN with Soloists had not been previously released on LP or CD.

Continue to CD 11.

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