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Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer: Stockhausen's "MANTRA"

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  • live@CIRMMT
When Oct 17, 2008
from 07:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Where Pollack Hall, Strathcona Music Building, McGill Univeristy (555 Sherbrooke St. West)
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The Duo

The Pestova/Meyer piano duo was formed in Amsterdam in 2003, when the two pianists were studying at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the class of Håkon Austbø. Both musicians share a strong interest in contemporary music and are committed to programming new and non-standard works in their critically acclaimed recitals.

Their most recent collaboration features Magnus Lindberg's explosive work Related Rocks for two pianos, percussion and electronics with United Instruments of Lucilin in Luxembourg and Riga. Other upcoming engagements include the two-piano concerto Dialoge by Bernd Alois Zimmermann with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and performances of MANTRA in 2008.


mantraThe composer Karlheinz Stockhausen passed away on the 5th of December 2007, only months before his 80th birthday. As a tribute to the one of the most important musical innovators of the Twentieth Century, the Pestova/Meyer Piano Duo will present his rarely performed masterpiece MANTRA (1970) for two pianos and live electronics in the 2008 concert season. This project is made possible with funding from the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture and the Creative New Zealand Arts Council in collaboration with the Philharmonie Luxembourg (where the first performance took place in January 2008 with Stockhausen's former assistant Jan Panis as sound projectionist), as well as funding from CIRMMT.  McGill University's Post-Graduate Students' Society and the McGill Percussion  Area have also generously provided support. 

MANTRA is an exciting and highly virtuosic work that calls for an unconventional approach to piano playing. The pianists are required to play antique cymbals and woodblocks, as well as use their voices. The two grand pianos are processed electronically in real-time to create two "super-instruments" with scintillating and beautiful sonorities that approach the exotic sound worlds of the prepared piano of John Cage, high-energy electric guitar distortion, and mysterious Morse-code radio signals.

Our approach to this piece is original due to the fact that we will be using digital technology for the electronic processing, resulting in a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic piece on the verge of technological obsolescence with a simple set-up and arguably superior sound quality. The hardware and software for our version of this piece was especially designed by Mark T. Marshall (McGill University) and Jacob Sudol (UCSD). This equipment was tested during a career development residency at the Banff Centre in February 2007, and in the presence of Karlheinz Stockahausen's sound projectionist Bryan Wolf in Kuerten, Germany at the Stockhausen Courses in July 2007. Final testing and modifications were carried out with Stockhausen's former assistant Jan Panis in Luxembourg in January 2008.


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