Mark J. St. Hilaire on the Value of Stockhausen Study CDs

Letter to Kathinka Pasveer from Mark J. St. Hilaire

Dear Kathinka,

CD 71 is very helpful for studying HOCH-ZEITEN in depth. Becoming familiar with the details of each layer (Choir Group) is so important if one wants to get to the heart of a rich and complex score like HOCH-ZEITEN. It cannot help but bring a deeper appreciation of the work as a whole.

For myself I've been focusing on one Group at a time (I noticed that conducting along with the score helps to assimilate the precise tempi of the chromatic tempo scale)--I hope there are still plans in the future for a metronome calibrated to such a scale. The specifics of the phonemes are also wonderfully elucidated, which is so important in a work that utilizes a very broad scale of them--since 5 languages are sung here like in ENGEL PROZESSIONEN, we have here the largest scale of phonemes that I've seen to date.

The blending-in of SONNTAGS-LIED at the end of each Group Part is a lovely touch, especially since this is such a magical moment in the work as a whole. I'll be focusing on one Group at a time for the next couple of weeks, and then listen to the whole work again afterwards.

I'll be interested to see (hear) how these new insights will affect my re-hearing the work! It's good that you release these CDs for study, because whether or not one may actually have plans to perform HOCH-ZEITEN, CD 71 is important for both prospective performers and serious listeners alike. Just like in art books where one likely finds details printed of portions of a large fresco to highlight certain details to better appreciate the work as a whole, so too is it warranted to have provided us listeners details of a large music 'fresco' like HOCH-ZEITEN so that we can better appreciate the whole. Great music should always be taken seriously, and by this I mean serious detailed study is always well justified. One further comment: when one first sees the score to HOCH-ZEITEN it might initially appear very strange because of its unconventional notation.

But once you start following it with the recording, it beautifully makes a whole lot of sense; this has always been the case whenever Stockhausen deviates from conventional notation! Conventional notation just would not have been as clear or as precise in a work like HOCH-ZEITEN. I'll write to you again soon.

All The Best!

Mark J. St. Hilaire.