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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    odd and rapturous Dozens of musicians sat on the stage with a semicircle of women in front most of whom alternately played violins and read chunks of the text Goebbels treated the prose like another instrument bringing out the musicality in Stein s seemingly offhanded observations about life during wartime It s funny about honey you always eat honey during a war so much honey there is no sugar there never is sugar during a war the first thing to disappear is sugar after that butter but butter can always be had but not sugar Goebbels who rarely travels to the United States but attended the performance at On the Boards is famous for his staging as well as his compositions His Stifter s Dinge recently at Lincoln Center not seen here is a piece for zero performers two stagehands a wall of pianos and bubbling pools of water But Songs of Wars I Have Seen performed by Seattle Chamber Players and Pacific Musicworks is all about adventures in sound It resembles a combination of the cosmically fractured symphonics of Messiaen s Quartet for the End of Time and Frederic Rzewski s spritely playful piano work around his dramatic reading

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/626 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    BBC and Voice of America on the radio they hear the threatening sound of airplanes overhead They read Shakespeare Richard III and Macbeth and ponder the historical and timeless quality of war It was apparently Stein s references to Shakespeare that inspired Goebbels to use fragments of Matthew Locke s music for The Tempest 1674 as a recurring part of his composition And of course the Locke should be played on period instruments with the mellow sounds of Baroque strings Goebbels piece is the only one I ve ever heard that successfully combines the timbres of period instruments tuned at A 415 with modern orchestral instruments tuned at A 440 In addition there are electronic sounds controlled both by a keyboard computer sampler onstage and by CD playback from the sound booth While this is a piece of chamber music it does require a conductor and the Estonian Anu Tali who had conducted the piece several times previously did a fine job of coordinating everything The most striking thing about the stage set up is the gender separation The women performers Baroque strings harp and some woodwinds sit at the front of the stage in a sort of living room with the soft lighting of floor lamps and table lamps of varied sizes shapes and colors The male instrumentalists brass percussion keyboard lute and some woodwinds sit at the back of the stage with harsh theatrical lighting and a bare light bulb hanging down overhead The women serve as the narrators storytellers reading the poetry individually and as a group chorus in addition to their instrumental duties I particularly enjoyed violist Laurel Wells rapid fire delivery and the partly sung narration of bass player Moriah Neils I happened to talk with Paul Taub the flutist after the performance He said

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/624 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    flawless In Songs German composer Goebbels takes excerpts from Gertrude Stein s 1945 book Wars I Have Seen and sets them in sharp relief against an ever shifting musical backdrop Stein s observations spoken rather than sung range from the droll to the disturbing With their odd inversions and repetitions her phrases keep landing on details that glitter with eerie vigor the way people talk to each other more readily in times of danger the way wars both speed up and slow down time the way a lunar eclipse is upstaged by Allied bombers approaching Eclipses are an amusement for peacetime The women in the ensemble do the speaking using microphones and they gamely take on their double duty although their delivery could use more Steinian swagger in places Precise sound balance is crucial to the piece working and sound engineers Al Swanson and Julian Martlew merit special mention for keeping each voice strand audible even when punctuated by trickily timed percussive and brass outbursts with the whole business often floating over prerecorded sound effects and sonic backdrops Trumpeter Tony DiLorenzo closes Songs out ravishingly with a slow note bending taps like solo set against a cold celestial tapestry of

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/623 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    at 3 7 and 10 p m without wearing anybody out But whom do you applaud Technicians They deserve it The piece could have been as impersonal as a light show or art installation Instead much of this was magical Stifters Dinge is the creation of Heiner Goebbels 57 the composer theater artist whose works make the rounds in European modern music festivals and are recorded on the adventurous ECM label His champions include Simon Rattle Often Goebbels assembles music as much as he composes it His Surrogate Cities contains a concerto for sampled sounds and orchestra Another piece samples the Beach Boys Like Charles Ives Goebbels embraces a wildly heterogeneous world with a quixotic faith that it s all connected in the end His works don t exist on the usual good vs bad continuum the question is whether he broadens your senses And here he certainly does A collaboration with Théâtre de Vidy in Lausanne Stifters Dinge shows Goebbels in a maturing state of consolidation The central inspiration is Biedermeier era German author Adalbert Stifter specifically his description of the beauty and danger of a forest after a severe ice storm Read in a voiceover Stifter s writing is gorgeous and has inspired a narrative of images At first the long narrow thrust style stage has a light dusting of snow evolving into frozen rain coming from the sky and finally a thaw in the form of wading pools with lights screens and ripples suggesting Claude Monet In between elements include the words of Claude Lévi Strauss and Malcolm X plus simultaneous player pianos with their outer covers removed revealing their chattering hammers and crowded into a tableau style sculpture with bare winter trees Their cacophony suggested Bach pieces played backward and simultaneously manically suggesting the pulsating force

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/612 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    in the program as a composition for five pianos with no pianists a play with no actors a performance without performers one might say a no man show Although all of this is true the 80 minute piece does have specific sources and recorded texts and even a sort of story The work was inspired by Adalbert Stifter an early 19th century writer poet and painter best known for his intricately detailed and mystical descriptions of nature A recording of a long excerpt from a Stifter piece The Ice Tale provides a central episode of Stifters Dinge In the text Stifter describes a wintry village in which the townspeople have spread sand and earth atop swaths of ice that cover the paths to their houses Traveling from the town into the forest with a friend in a horse drawn sledge Stifter hears a strange distant sound as though thousands if not millions of glass shards were rustling and clinking against each other It turns out to be the rattling from frozen tree branches falling on ice This scene with its atmosphere and specific sounds are all evoked before we hear the text read Stifters Dinge begins with delicate sounds from the five pianos operated through computerized player piano mechanisms producing gentle patterns of steady beats scraping noises melodic bits and hints of cosmic harmonies Mixed in we hear the sounds recorded in 1905 of songs and spoken stories of natives from New Guinea Visually at first the walls with the pianos are seen in the distance behind a series of what look to be three huge sandboxes on the stage floor The only people in the piece are two silent stagehands who spread salt atop an elongated sifter which they shake over the boxes as if spreading sand over ice Then from tubes attached to three clunky tanks the boxes fill with water making beautiful inky patterns At times the walls slide on automatic rails and move closer to the seating area for only 165 as if the piano were in attack mode The most astonishing musical episode comes when the looming pianos play a dizzying barrage of chromatic scales up and down the lengths of the keyboards creating a dense din of steely glissandos From my perspective Stifters Dinge comes across mostly as a musical piece in a theatrical framework All of the musical elements are produced live though the sounds are amplified and electronically processed The only recorded elements are the spoken texts During one episode after the long extract from the Stifter story one of the pianos plays the pensive slow movement from Bach s Italian Concerto Halfway through the Bach in a burst of French that rattles the mood we hear the voice of the philosopher Claude Lévi Strauss in a radio interview from 1988 Subtitles are projected on one of the screens that descend on the set now and then On one level Stifter s writings are an invitation a plea even for people to

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/608 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    s r i g h t t o w a r d s u s i n t h e a u d i e n c e b e f o r e r o l l i n g b a c k A n d n o w t h e a u r a l t h e a t e r W e b e g i n w i t h e l e c t r o n i c p i a n o s r u m b l i n g i n t h e b a c k g r o u n d g o o n t o a P a p u a n c h a n t r e c o r d e d i n 1 9 0 5 r e s o n a t i n g t h r o u g h t h e A r m o r y T h e p i a n o s p l a y s f i r s t t w o l e a d i n g n o t e s f r o m B a c hˇ s F a n t a s i a a n d F u g u e t h e n t h e e n t i r e s l o w m o v e m e n t f r o m t h e I t a l i a n C o n c e r t o A f t e r t h i s i s j a z z p l a y e d a m a z i n g l y b y t h e p i a n o s i n r i p p l i n g o c t a v e s o n e a f t e r t h e o t h e r a n d a v i d e o o f a s h a k i n g b r a s s i n s t r u m e n t T h i s i s f o l l o w e d b y C o l u m b i a n I n d i a n s c h a n t i n g a n o l d G r e e k s o n g o f f e r i n g g o o d l u c k t o f i s h e r m e n L i t e r a r i l y t h e t i t l e g i v e s i t a w a y S t i f t e rˇ s T h i n g s c o m e f r o m t h e w r i t i n g o f a n e a r l y 1 9 t h C e n t u r y A u s t r i a n n a t u r e p o e t B u t v e r y f e w o f h i s ˇ t h i n g sˇ a r e m e n t i o n e d I n s t e a d w e h a v e a c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h t h e l a t e C l a u d e L e v i S t r a u s s a b o u t t h e i n h u m a n i t y o f h u m a n i t y T h e E n g l i s h s u r t i t l e s o n t h e c u r t a i n s t a k e t h e p l a c e o f a p i c t u r e b y P a u l o U c e l l o i n t h e o r i g i n a l T h e n s o m e w o r d s b y W i l l i a m B u r r o u g h s a n d M a l c o l m X a n d f i n a l l y s o m e m o r e w o r d s b y M r S t i f t e r A t t h i s p o i n t t h e l i g h t s g o d a r k a n d t h e n o n A n d t h e n H e r r G o e b b e l s s t e p s o u t o n s t a g e f o r a m o d e s t b o w I o n l y d e s c r i b e t h i n g s t h i s w a y b e c a u s e t h e e f f e c t o f t h i sˇ e r s t a g e w o r k c u m m u s i c w o r k c u m l i t e

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/611 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    desolation of the manufactured and the dynamism of the natural that permeates this actorless plotless theatrical event It s probably the most beautiful stage show one could see this weekend The achievement of Stifters Dinge is to teach us to see again Its inspiration Adalbert Stifter was an 18th century novelist whose prose is so distracted by the details of the outside world icicles house roofs fruit carts that people and plots get lost in the shuffle Goebbels is interested in staging not so much Stifter s worlds as the rewards of his distraction Contrasts are built into the show s visual and aural landscape For height there s an upstage tableau consisting of five pianos stripped to reveal the vibrating strings beneath played by automated machinery and presented in various angles alongside bare tree trunks and pipes For depth there are three reflecting pools which start the evening by being filled and conclude it by bubbling like a prehistoric swamp Four screens layered back to front are occasionally lowered to present images of a forest or of a Boschlike Paolo Uccello painting Sounds of the mechanical world clicks whistles whirrs coincide with that most natural sound of all moving

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/609 (2016-02-13)
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  • Heiner Goebbels - Archive - Texts - Reviews
    vast drill hall of the Park Avenue Armory The abstract avant garde has seldom looked or sounded more vital more dramatic or more accessible The Stifter of the title is Adalbert Stifter an early 19th century novelist obsessed with descriptive minutiae of nature These are his Dinge his things And these are the objects explored analysed illustrated distorted refocused symbolised and transformed in Goebbels installation The composer director auteur describes himself as a theatrical architect He describes this complex adventure deceptively if accurately as a composition for five pianos with no pianists a play with no actors a performance without performers a no man show The setting realised in conjunction with Klaus Grünberg moves constantly shifts constantly challenges constantly It deals in disparities pools of bubbly water rain snow ice junk sculptures industrial façades deconstructed keyboards stylised branches moody lights spooky smoke and painterly panoramas Uccello s Night Hunt and Ruisdael s Swamp The technology on display is staggering think Rube Goldberg on acid though the technicians are invisible The sonic scheme realised in conjunction with Hubert Machnik and Willi Bopp combines rumbles and blips of musique concrète primitive percussive punctuation modernist meandering quotations of Bach suppressed romanticism and the

    Original URL path: http://www.heinergoebbels.com/en/archive/texts/reviews/read/613 (2016-02-13)
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