The Molecular Shuffle
Ernstalbrecht Stiebler’s pioneering minimal compositions have previously been overshadowed by his reputation as a producer for German radio, supervising sessions by Alvin Lucier, Christian Wolff, Earle Brown, Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage and Morton Feldman. That may change, though, as this album leads off a series showcasing his music.
Stiebler was born in 1934. He studied under Stockhausen and has composed mostly chamber, choral, piano and organ works. His first composition was performed in 1963 and was seen as being in contrast to the serialist vogue. This release includes the first available recording of the organ work “Mitteltöne” (1997) performed by Stiebler, aged 77. The real treats, though, are the “Trio 89” and “Sequence II”. The latter is a 1984 composition for cello and tape available here as a new recording with cellist Agnieszka Dziubak playing with the care and concentration the piece demands and the two instruments merge to create a mournful drone.
The fantastic “Trio 89” is a German radio recording from 1994 featuring Frances-Marie Uitti (cello), Robyn Schulkowsky (percussion) and Marianne Schroeder (piano). In their hands, the incremental magnificence of this music can be fully appreciated—rather like actors with the skill and intense confidence to bring the meaning and nuance of Shakespearean English to life. In Stiebler’s language of composition, not one second is wasted, be that during percussion, long-bowing of the cello, plucked piano strings, plainsong-like harmonics, precision intervals, pitch descents and a bleak yet indefatigable sonority.