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Stockhausen once described Mantra as ‘a musical miniature of the unified macro- structure of the cosmos’. Composed in 1970 for two pianists (and sound projectionist), it marked his turn away from the ‘intuitive’ musics of the mid-1960s and initiated the post-serialist ‘formula’ works that would occupy him until his death in 2007. In Mantra, the ‘formula’ is a 13-note melody (a 12-tone row plus the initial note repeated at the end), which then undergoes a series of repetitions, expansions and contractions at different levels of speed and scale. The pianos are also modified by ring-modulators, in a constant to-ing and fro-ing between consonance and dissonance. The resulting music is playful, inventive, dramatic; a colourful array of semi-exotic sounds. It’s given a fine performance here by Knoop, Chadwick and Armstrong, sharper and more engaging than the rival version on Naxos.

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Piano International, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing