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Henning Christiansen - OP.163 PENTHESILEA 2LP

Henning Christiansen - OP.163 PENTHESILEA 2LP

Henning Christiansen Archive

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Beautiful, haunting and sombre, this 2LP presents the entire recording from Henning Christiansen’s Heinrich von Kleist tribute at Rene Block’s Rosenfest festival, Berlin, 1984.

THE REALITY IS A GHOST IN MY MIND (LP1) is a work that unfolds patiently with a mix of field recordings; wind, bird song and the sound of snow being crushed underfoot all unite in a foreboding atmosphere. IN PENTHESILEAS HÖHLE (LP2) features electronic treatments to the original field recordings found on THE REALITY IS A GHOST IN MY MIND, a representation of psychological reorientation perhaps? A deep ground tone (or ROOT as Henning calls it) leads the listener through a variety of realistic and unrealistic environments. As Henning says in his essay reprinted on the back sleeve:

“Then comes a section where the field recordings of the sea, the storm, birds, cars and other things, are built together so that the realism of these sounds become unreal. For example the cars drive into the sea and the birds are singing within the storm. When you hear footsteps in the show, it’s Kleist sneaking past Deutsche Schauspielhaus. When you hear a deep, human sleeping noise, it’s Achilles sleeping. When you hear hammering it’s the weapon smith working. When you hear a stone being thrown it means the unanswered question: “Who threw the first stone?”

These recordings lead to the finale where Carla Tatò’s haunted vocals into her singing mournfully along with Jan Tilman Schade’s violoncello and tuba, then a chainsaw appears.

Presented in a deluxe di-cut sleeve with writings by Ursula Reuter Christiansen and Henning Christiansen and adorned with an artwork, Penthesilea by Ursula Reuter Christiansen, 1983

* Small excerpts of these works previously appeared on one of the 7”s in the Rosenfest Berlin 1984 catalogue (Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD ) and the compilation CD Ghosts And Monsters: Technology And Personality In Contemporary Music (Leonardo Music Journal / Electronic Music Foundation 1999).

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A previously unreleased project of Henning Christiansen, monumental in scope, traversing years, countries and now, formats. The Henning Christiansen Archive is proud to finally present one of the crown jewels of the archive, the masterpiece ‘Penthesilea’ as a 2LP and 5CD set.

Pentheseila is one of the most ambitious works in the entire Henning Christiansen oeuvre. A large-scale work from the mid eighties based on the play of the same name by Heinrich von Kleist (1808). Both Henning and his widow, Ursula Reuter Christiansen, were enthusiastic about Kleist’s text, both making works around the themes within this portent text.

Henning Christiansen first developed a work around this text for the Rosenfest festival performed in Berlin in 1984. Rosenfest was curated by René Block and featured a variety of composers presenting works in response to Kleist’s work including Robert Ashley, "Blue" Gene Tyranny etc. Henning formulated a composition utilising tape, field recordings, voice, soprano, and violoncello alongside the home made instruments of Werner Durand.

The live presentation was then expanded upon and first performed two years later at Teatro Olímpico, Rome on the 8th November 1986 as directed by Carlo Quartucci. The two releases presented here include a 2 x vinyl LP of the Rosenfest recordings in 1984 and a 5CD set sharing the four and a half hour backing track prepared for the Teatro Olímpico performance in Rome in 1986. Together these two releases make up a substantial overview of one of the most significant works in the entire Christiansen canon.