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Stockhausen: Helicopter String Quartet

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Product Details

  • Actors: Stockhausen, Arditti String Quartet
  • Directors: Scheffer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00176I94K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,008 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Karlheinz Stockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett is one of the most controversial and talked-about works of art in recent years. Composed for the Arditti Quartet and premiered at the 1995 Holland Festival, it involves the four members of a string quartet playing in four different helicopters flying through the air. The music the quartet plays is then sent to a central space and mixed at a sound board. In his film Helicopter String Quartet, Frank Scheffer documents the complex preparations in the month leading up to the premiere of this work, as well as eliciting insights from the composer regarding how he conceived and executed it. Stockhausen tells Scheffer, for example, that the idea for the work came to him in a dream he had of musicians being able to fly. He then produced a fascinatingly original score in which each instrument is written in a different color, and in which the four string lines frequently jump from one staff to the other in order to imitate birds flying in different formations. Stockhausen also analyzes the content of the work for Scheffer, in particular showing how the writing for the quartet is meant to merge with the sonic characteristics of the helicopters. Scheffer goes behind the scenes and, stage by stage, shows the enormous production needed to realize Helikopter-Streichquartett.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This DVD contains a documentary by Frank Scheffer on Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Helicopter String Quartet", one of the oddest and most ambitious pieces of contemporary music around. When Stockhausen received a generous commission shortly after dreaming of flying, he conceived a work where the four players of a string quartet would each be lifted up into their air in their own helicopter, and their playing (synchronized by a click track) would be relayed to the ground, mixed at a central control panel, and then spatialized through speakers in the hall for the audience.

As the Arditti Quartet began rehearsing for the work's premiere under Stockhausen's guidance in 1995, Scheffer was there to capture the challenges and joys that this unusual work posed. Each of the members of the quartet presents their thoughts -- violinists Irvine Arditti and Graeme Jennings, violist Garth Knox and cellist Rohan de Saram. Stockhausen does most of the talking, however, explaining how he wrote the piece and how it fits into his overall aesthetic. (Strangely, however, Stockhausen nowhere explains how the quartet fits into his opera LICHT.) Even those who are fairly familiar with Stockhausen's late music will learn something here. I was surprised that the counting in the piece, where the performers take turns saying "Eins", "Zwei", "Drei", "Vier" etc. was not originally meant to show the players were synchronized (it was just another example of Stockhausen's nutty numerology in LICHT), but this was a mere bonus. The documentary does cover all aspects of the piece, from the actual string quartet, to Stockhausen's mixing and spatialization, and even the logistics of flying and broadcasting from the Helicopters.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on July 13, 2008
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always toward the end you get more Zen-like; simplicity seems to impart itself on older consciousnesses;it happen to Hegel, Godard,Goethe,Webern and Lacan; be what you do, you try to come to terms with what you did in the beginning with high levels of complexity and proceed forward; Stockhausen (KS) explains he has no philosophy,(but really he does) speaking in impeccable German, he speaks in clear threadbare rhythms like his latter music of LICHT,beautiful in-and-of-itself; but KS did (the latter years, 1970 forward cultivate a kind of soft non-threatening tribalism,certainly no worse than the brutal cultural cadres in New York City; his tribes practice(laid back) in tune with high post-war modernity and his own celestial migrations to the zodiac,(kreis) new spaces,new densities and configural gardens; here the Helikopter Quartet was something a bit more interesting for Arditti to do than the coldly calculated abstractions they perform, assisted by the Grasshoppers, The Dutch Air Force stunt team, but far from overt entertainment, seeing the four helikopters hovering in sinusoidal patterns almost within reach of each other(it is a string quartet)and has its own restrained gentle beauty without always encumbered by the incessant chopper blade rotors being heard,helikopters do not instantly suggest peace or serious art,but things far more violent and turbulent,nightmarish for some,understandable why the piece was boycotted(How much does this cost, how many hungry children can be fed?Read more ›
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