Hans-Joachim Hespos – Frottages/Zeitschnitte

Frottages/Zeitschnitte 10 inch front cover
Frottages/Zeitschnitte 10 inch back cover
Frottages/Zeitschnitte 10 inch side 1Hans-Joachim Hespos

German contemporary music composer Hans-Joachim Hespos, born 1938, is one of the most radical figures of the German avantgarde, not least for the uncompromising ethos he maintained until today – for instance, he publishes his scores himself, not through an official editor like Peters. His scores place high demands on the interprets in terms of technical prowess, stage action and radical timbral experiments, or simply improvisation, which classically-trained musicians are always reluctant to do. This 10 inch vinyl, limited to 400 copies, was released during Hespos’ residency at Villa Massimo in Rome, Italy, in 1972-73, after he was awarded the Rome Prize by the German government.

♫  The unusual instrumentarium required by Frottages, composed 1967, includes saxophone, mandolin and harp, as well as 4 percussionists, to explore contrasted sound textures through constant permutation from 1 or 2 instruments to the others. Rather than ensemble music, the piece is best described as a frame to allow potential sonorities to bloom – after all, an ensemble called Musica Negativa is not prone to demure contrepoint, right? The title itself is an allusion to Max Ernst’s frottage technique to create varied textures from existing materials.

The 1970 Zeitschnitte string trio takes Webern as a point of reference, yet with a Darmstadt-like filter. The desiccated string sonorities and robust contrasted sounds of the Trio à Cordes Français, French musicians familiar with Mozart as well as Xenakis, build a desolate sonic landscape in which extended playing technique and impeccable timing play an important role.

01 Frottages (13:24)

Ensemble Musica Negativa
Rainer Riehn, cond.
H.W. Goetzke, saxophone
Harald Weiß, mandoline
Brigitte Deshais Du Portal-Silvestre, harp
Wilhelm Schulz, cello
Bell Imhoff, percussion

02 Zeitschnitte (12:50)

Trio à Cordes Français
Gerard Jarry, violin
Serge Collot, viola
Michel Tournus, cello

Total time 26:14
10-inch released by Deutsche Akademie Villa Massimo Rom, [Stuttgart?], Germany, 1973


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4 Responses to “Hans-Joachim Hespos – Frottages/Zeitschnitte”

  1. 1 matthias March 18, 2011 at 9:49 am

    thanks a lot,
    i always like new/old stuff from hespos – indeed one of the many intereting composers today. just listening & enjoying this one …

  2. 2 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián March 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Wonderfull record, never heard ‘Frottages’, I loved it, gonna play it in class!!

    thank you


  3. 3 continuo March 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    @ Matthias: thanks for “liking” this post. I have other Hespos’ records, but this one is a little jewel, I think, for its brevity and musical perfection.

    @ Joaquín: maybe you’ll ask your students to make a drawing after the sounds in Frottages? A diagram of how music circulates in this piece would be interesting.

  4. 4 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián March 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I’m gonna try it! i’ll let you know about the results.


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