If you close your eyes, the space around you begins to pulsate. A choir of 70 people, united, yet physically separated from each other, and Martin Kohlstedt in his pulpit built of keyboard instruments.
If you close your eyes, the space around you begins to pulsate. A choir of 70 people, united, yet physically separated from each other, and Martin Kohlstedt in his pulpit built of keyboard instruments. As the participants engage in a moment of contemplation, they are doing what all human beings do simply to stay alive: they breathe.
Winding their way between the performers are the melodies that radiate from Martin Kohlstedt's piano. As if bouncing off a glittering vault, they are reflected and fragmented ad infinitum. Bar by bar the structure becomes further illuminated, and the complex process of interaction becomes comprehensible while remaining beyond our grasp. The architecture of this space seems to reach to infinity. Synthetic sounds and elements of noise exert a pressure that transforms pillars of rhythm into lucid melodies. Broad syllables melt into clangorous vowels. Everything is subject to transformation. Everything is dependent upon something else. And no-one says a word.
STRÖME (Currents) is the latest refinement of a Kohlstedt snapshot. It is the result of lively collaboration between the composer and pianist, with his feisty intuition, and a performing collective, Leipzig‘s GewandhausChor. On this album, Martin Kohlstedt's modular compositions – not ‘works’ as such, but rather compendiums of interconnecting musical ideas – once again break new terrain. Kohlstedt resonates with the choir, and above all with its director Gregor Meyer, sparking emotional impulses between the singers and indirectly stimulating movement in their bodies. As participants in this experiment, the members of the GewandhausChor adopted innovative musical methods, not working from traditional notation. Each singer was free to take individual creative initiatives. A wealth of patience was required on both sides and a fundamental tension courses through all the recordings, which draw to electrifying effect on modules from previous albums. Martin Kohlstedt is known for music that exercises a magnetic power and here it draws performers and listeners into a field of social warmth, of intimate negotiation, of breaking away and coming together.
With STRÖME, Martin Kohlstedt leaves us in no doubt as to the power that lies in the presence of real, live perfomers. As they strive for a shared sensibility, they become a ceremonial community that subsumes the listener. This makes STRÖME into an almost archaic, but highly energetic phenomenon. It is also daring, in that it pulls off the masterstroke of making a classically trained chorus fundamental to Kohlstedt’s free association. Everybody involved is pushed to their limits and this is precisely what makes the instrumental and vocal elements meld time and again into something that is both elevated and eternally new.