Sunday, 3 August 2008

Antique Stockhausen Prom 1967

Tonight's Prom was Stockhausen's Gruppen. My friend was at the London premiere on 3 September 1967 "the 73rd Henry Wood Promenade Concert Season" as it was called then. The booklet is tiny, 14 pages, no photos, few ads and sober commentary. Read this in a starchy 60's BBC accent :

"Much of the sound in (Stockhausen's) works is remote indeed from "music" in the Mozartean or Wagnerian sense,....but there is no disputing that even the most radically new among them do exemplfy the art of sound practiced with arresting inventiveness and imagination, and sometimes with compelling effect, even when the listener might wonder whether "music" is the right word for it". The main conductor was Pierre Boulez, aged 41, who is described as "perhaps the most brilliant all-rounder in European music today, and it has been said of him that he could even organize the French Government", Interesting comment, coming before IRCAM, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the upheavals of 1968.

Also interesting is the young celeste player mentioned in the orchestra list - none other than John Constable, stalwart of the London Sinfonietta which didn't exist at the time of this Prom. (oops, Henry Wood Promenade Concert). There aren't many ads but they're serious minded stuff. You could buy a Decca 12 inch LP for 25 shillings and fourpence (£1.28 in decimal terms). The programme cost one shilling but it was money well spent. Besides Gruppen, Heather Harper sang Berg's Altenberg Lieder and Boulez conducted Three Fragments from Wozzeck and The Rite of Spring.

No comments: