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Karlheinz Stockhausen - Engel-Prozessionen (1/4)

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Published on Dec 3, 2011

Engel-Prozessionen (Angel-Processions), (2000)

Isolde Siebert, soprano
Janet Collins, alto
Hubert Mayer, tenor
Andreas Fischer, bass

Groot Omroepkoor
James Wood

This is the world premiere of Stockhausen's Engel-Prozessionen, which took place in Amsterdam, Concertgebouw, in the context of the VARA-Matinee, November 9, 2002, 2.15 p.m.

[Music begins at 10:04]

Engel-Prozessionen constitutes the second part of Sonntag aus Licht: the day of the mystical union of Michael and Eve. The work, written as commission from the Matinee for the Groot Omroepkoor (the Great Broadcast Choir), has developed into a space composition wherein seven choirs -- each one of them representing one day of the week and singing texts in seven languages -- are distributed across the space. Stockhausen: "Seven choirs of angels stand at seven points of the compass grouped around the audience and they move bit by bit in processions through space; they cross the middle one by one and towards the end, they get together. In the meantime they bring lillies in all colors to a heap of flowers in the middle" (in this performance to the podium). The choirs one through six are located in the hall, corresponding to their function and meaning in the opera: Angels of the Water (Monday from Light), Angels of the Earth (Tuesday from Light), Angels of Life (Wednesday from Light), Angels of Music (Thursday from Light), Angels of Light (Friday from Light), Angels of Heaven (Saturday from Light). Those choirs sing -- in the sequence of their listing -- in Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic and Kishwahili. The seventh choir that consists of soloists -- Angels of Joy (Sunday from Light) -- is located on an eye-catching spot; on the balcony or, as at the end, on the podium. This choir sings in German. The placement and movement of the choirs through space, the symbolic gestures of the performers and the music all follow a sophisticated plan.

The composition is based on the 'superformula', from which the three melodic formulas of the main persons in the entire opera -- Michael, Eve and Lucifer -- are deduced. In Engel-Prozessionen Lucifer however does not act a part. Stockhausen: "Each choir of angels is composed in two-voice polyphony, with the Eve-formula in the upper voice and the Michael-formula in the lower voice [...]. A tutti-choir, placed on the sidewalls of the auditorium, sings the notes of the Michael-formula and the Eve-formula in a long-drawn out way [...]"

The choir groups wear robes in the following colors:
Angels of the Water (Monday from Light), light green
Angels of the Earth (Tuesday from Light), red
Angels of Life (Wednesday from Light), yellow
Angels of Music (Thursday from Light), blue
Angels of Light (Friday from Light), orange
Angels of Heaven (Saturday from Light), dark blue
Angels of Joy (Sunday from Light) -- soloists, gold
Tutti-Choir, white

All singers had flowers (irises) attached to the back of their robes at the height of their right shoulderblades

The tutti-choir comprises 6 singers four each of the 4 voice registers (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), 24 voices total; some of the other choir groups (6 singers each, except the group of 4 soloists) comprise a single voice register (i.e. they are a group of sopranos, or a group of tenors etc.), some are mixed.

Art by Daniel Richter

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