sacre edit

With the Sacre Edit CD, Stefan Goldmann delivered a radically new approach to editing and electrifying orchestral music: A minimalistic cut up on the edges of perception celebrates one of the most thrilling works in orchestral music – Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre Du Printemps. Staying 100% true to the original score, he moves through over a dozen of classic recordings of the work in 146 individually treated segments. Nothing has been left out, nothing has been added. Still everything changes totally every few seconds. A statement for authenticity in an environment were everybody produces edits to alter originals to suit ephemeric functional needs. The result: a ground breaking version of a classic and a totally new take on the art of editing.

I’m so paranoid I sometimes believe I can hear edits at live concerts.
(Bob Katz)

About Le Sacre Du Printemps:

“I am the medium through which Sacre has flown”, said Stravinsky, as he knew that Le Sacre du printemps was not only his most important work, but also a turning point in music history, like Beethoven’s late string quartets or Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde before.

It marked the “end of the 200 year old predominance of the German music tradition in Europe and the end of a thousand year old supremacy of melody and harmony over rhythm”, as Michael Tilson Thomas remarked. Just before the start of World War I, Sacre unleashed wild subliminal urges, which anticipated the shape of things to come in a violent century.

Stravinsky claimed he had the idea for this work in 1910, when he dreamed of a “heathen ritual, during which a chosen virgin dances herself to death in a sacrificial dance.” Most of the music was composed in 1911. “There was no system guiding me… There is hardly any tradition and no theory behind Le Sacre du printemps. Only my ear helped me; I heard, and what I heard I wrote down.” Sacre continues to be one of the most influential works of music of the last century. Being a starting point of modernism in European concert music and an early alternative to Schoenberg’s innovations, it has been of central inspiration for anyone from Edgard Varèse to John Zorn. With its multi-facetted, “multi-coded” complexity, incorporating harsh contrasts, cut-like rhythmic and dynamic turns and quotes of Russian and Baltic folk song melodies, it also continues to cast serious doubts on the validity of post-modern music theory by predating all its core aesthetic claims by half a century.

Stefan Goldmann on editing Sacre:

“At first listen you hardly recognise it has been edited at all. Every couple of seconds though you find yourself in a different room, listening to a different orchestra under a different conductor. A journey through microphone positions and mixdown decisions – with each turn a different acoustic world unfolds in the headphones. Also the resulting sequence of alternating shades of tape hiss in the recordings form an electroacoustic work in its own right, as you can follow a floating noise contour throughout the work – probably the clearest evidence of the editing process. The edit puts a focus on the subtleties of orchestral interpretation – a field often neglected and widely unknown to the electronic society. Identify the edits through analysis of interpretational characteristics! It is a very quiet intrusion into the material and I have been extremely careful not to change sound colour or to mask any relevant elements.

The original recordings represent a quite unique era in audio engineering. This is when the shift happened from mono to stereo, simultaneously with unprecedented extensions of dynamic bandwidth and frequency range. Full frequency range was introduced, thus great condenser mics, classic consoles and recording to tape give these “transitional” recordings a unique quality (today’s orchestral DDD recordings offer much less fun for such a project).

Why edits?

Edits have become ubiquitous. I feel they are too often employed just to make something more “functional” in a dance music context, i.e. erasing part of a work’s originality in order to make it fit into some narrow context, for instance a DJ set in a certain style. People have been encouraged to alter everything and not to spend much thought why something was created the specific way it is. That’s why I chose Sacre. It is perfect. It doesn’t need any re-arranging. Yet it is deeply fragmented due to its structure of permanent turnarounds. It is the best object for such a task.

Leaving the composers’ intentions as you find them, no messing with the structure of the composition at all and still actually cutting 146 sections and making them work together – this has probably never been tried before in such a complex edit.

On the other hand hardly anyone has ever dealt with the in-depth details of classical interpretation, the great Tonmeister-tradition and the “invisible editing” techniques employed in classical music (where the utmost goal is to keep engineering below the radar, as if it wasn’t there) as aesthetic parameters, as contours, in their on right. For me this is about celebrating one of the most inspiring pieces of music of the 20th century and simultaneously to bring these “meta” aspects to attention to a public that’s hardly aware of these aesthetic parameters and their huge influence on the music important to us today. Here is a “minimally invasive” approach to a classic.”

Spiegel Online: “Die Kunst des Editierens ist seit Jahr und Tag ein zentraler Teil der elektronischen Tanzmusik. So fing alles an: mit dem Zerschnippeln und neuen Zusammensetzen alter Discosongs durch eine Handvoll DJs in Chicago und London. Jeder auf Tanzmusik spezialisierte Plattenladen hatte und hat sie unterm Ladentisch: die sogenannten Edits. Doch seit man dafür keine Tonbänder mehr braucht und nichts mehr aneinanderkleben muss, seit Programme dies übernehmen und eine Arbeit, die früher Tage dauern konnte, sich in ein paar Stunden erledigen lässt, hat die Edit-Kultur erstaunliche Ausmaße angenommen: Jede Woche erscheinen neue Edits, einen Überblick hat kaum jemand mehr, meist hat man es mit recht phantasielosem Stückelwerk zu tun, das alte Discostücke mit der Brechstange für den zeitgenössischen Dancefloor plattklopft. Auch darauf dürfte Stefan Goldmanns Edit von Igor Stravinskys Le Sacre Du Printemps ein Kommentar sein. Goldmann ist selbst ja nicht nur Technoproduzent und DJ, er hat auch schon elektro-akustische Experimente veröffentlicht. Für seinen Stravinsky-Edit hat er dessen Werk “Le Sacre Du Printemps” in 146 Segmente aufgeteilt und aus einigen Dutzend Aufnahmen eine neue Version zusammengeschnitten. An der Partitur ändert sich dabei gar nichts – hört man sich das Stück auf dem Kopfhörer an, hat man aber die interessante Erfahrung, durch immer neue Klangräume zu wandern, während die Musik die gleiche zu bleiben scheint. Macro heißt das kleine Label, das Goldmann zusammen mit seinem Partner Finn Johannsen betreibt: eine Unternehmung mit einem wahrhaft eklektischen Programm. Neben Goldmanns House-Maxis und seinen Klangexperimenten ist dort unlängst eine Platte des Techno-Pioniers Santiago Salazar aus Detroit erschienen. Und als nächstes steht eine Wiederveröffentlichung des Hi-Energy-Produzenten Patrick Cowley an. So kann man sich das Plattenmachen nach dem Ende der Tonträgerindustrie vorstellen. Das einzige Kriterium, etwas zu veröffentlichen: die eigene Leidenschaft.” (Tobias Rapp)

Electronic Beats: “House and techno producer Stefan Goldmann recently stepped into the world of edits with a unique interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s majestic Le Sacre Du Printemps, otherwise known as The Rite of Spring. Where most of his contemporaries are dipping into their disco collections for sanitised cut and paste edits, Stefan instead decided to re-work a piece of classical music. Unlike Moritz Von Oswald and Carl Craig’s take on Ravel’s Bolero, rightly interpreted as a techno production, Goldmann retained the complete structure of Stravinsky’s original work. Piecing together various recordings into 146 sections, Goldmann’s version highlights the subtleties of each recording.”

Jorge Socarras: “Sacre has always been a definitive piece of 20th century music for me personally, if not thee definitive 20th century work altogether. Stefan has rendered it in all its newness again. The very definition of the project, conceptually and technically, alters the conscious experience of listening – something Stravinsky of course achieved to the first degree dynamically. (…) Ultimately what the edit achieves seems a harmonious parallel to Stravinsky’s efforts, a technical and conceptual reiteration of what the music effects: the demand that we listen to each note as if it has never been played/heard before.”

LWE: “Stefan Goldmann’s Sacre interpretation is befuddling on first listen. (…) His edit combines subtle layers of tone in ways that jar and frustrate, because no orchestra should be able to combine them in one sitting. Goldmann’s track is creepy. The familiar feeling of hearing an orchestra perform, subverted minute by minute by a collision of sounds that shouldn’t quite be with one another, gets under the skin. Whether it does more than this is probably a matter of interpretation. To some, Goldmann’s efforts here might pale in comparison to any one of the fourteen recordings he samples in their unmolested versions. For me, though, the wonderfully subtle feeling of standing on wobbly ground Goldmann creates here is a real treat. If you prefer the original way of doing things, he’s included two of the classic recordings he’s used. But for those that want a track made with a hint of Stravinsky’s brave approach, it’s all about the remix.” (Colin Shields)

Raveline: “Der Berliner Produzent und DJ Stefan Goldmann überreicht uns mit seinem Edit die Eintrittskarte in den schillernden Zauberwald der Klassik. Igor Stravinskys abwechslungsreiches, elektrisierendes Werk Le Sacre Du Printemps zählt wohl zu den bedeutendsten der klassischen Musik und ist schlicht und ergreifend überwältigend. Goldmann nimmt bei seinem Arrangement keinen Einfluss auf die Stücke selbst, sondern teilte viel mehr Dutzende verschiedene Aufnahmen aus unterschiedlichen Sälen in 146 Segmente und fügt diese so zusammen, dass ein neues innovatives Hörerlebnis entsteht. Die Intention Stravinskys sollte dabei zu keiner Zeit verloren gehen. Man begibt sich mit dieser Interpretation eines Meisterwerks auf eine Reise durch die Konzerthallen dieser Welt, ohne dabei auch nur einen Fuß vor die Tür zu setzen. Für Freunde der Klassik, aber auch für diejenigen, die diesem Genre nicht so zugeneigt sind, eine klare Bereicherung des Musikportfolios.”

Resident Advisor: “It’s logical that a piece so centred on rhythm should spark the interest of dance music producers, but that it has resulted in so subtle an edit, by none other than proto-progressivist Stefan Goldmann, is indeed a surprise.

The only hint of an interest in classical music I’d noticed in Goldmann was the choir which gorgeously rears up in Lunatic Fringe, but his edit of The Rite reveals a studied, thorough understanding not just of classical music structure but, more significantly, of the classical recording industry. Taking twelve different recordings of the work, Goldmann performed 146 cuts, remaining faithful to the score throughout. (…) Goldmann, then, is in essence some sort of Perry-esque dub-engineer-prankster here, exposing the imperfection-masking “invisible edits” of which the classical recording industry is so dependent, celebrating the unique atmospheres of individual recording sessions, and, almost consequently, introducing a beloved classical icon to new audiences.

Except that Goldmann’s approach is so “minimally invasive” that his edits are often as difficult to detect as those of the industry he critiques. Actual cuts are inaudible, and the variations between performances, or rather between recording sessions, are barely discernible, even through headphones. His restraint is admirable, and it’s an intriguing concept—there is some fun to be had in spotting the change in bassoons in the opening bars, or the fluctuations in tape hiss which occur throughout—but it’s an alienating, academic exercise, and soon seems rather pointless.

Much better to submit and get carried away by the music, the strongest moments of which remain immune to Goldmann’s scalpel. Dance of the Adolescents is as shocking and revelatory as ever, and Goldmann’s cutting, here relatively dramatic, goes by unnoticed. The lasting effect Goldmann’s editing produces is one of dehumanisation and objectivity, the artifice of recording foregrounded, and this version, if it can be compared against “real” ones, feels uniquely cold. The contribution of individual performers, and the relative value of different performances (the basis for all classical music appreciation and criticism) become meaningless, leaving only an indifferent rendering of Stravinsky’s score. This may well have been Goldmann’s intention, but I’ll take Pierre Monteux’s untouched 1957 recording, included here, any day. Ironically, after all these levels of detachment, it is Stravinsky whose voice remains.” (Joshua Meggitt)

TAZ die tageszeitung: “Die Goldmann’sche Fassung des Sacre ist kein Edit im gewöhnlichen Sinn, eher ein kritischer Kommentar. Denn an der Komposition hatte er nichts auszusetzen. “Es lohnt sich nicht, etwas zu remixen, das perfekt ist.” Also beschloss er, das Werk in seiner Struktur zu lassen. Ihn interessierten die Unterschiede verschiedener Einspielungen, die Dirigenten als Interpreten.

Was dann geschah, klingt zunächst nach ambitionierter Beschäftigungsmaßnahme. Goldmann nahm sich rund zwei Dutzend Aufnahmen, schnippelte daran herum und bastelte aus 146 Segmenten eine neue Version. Ohne eine Note zu ändern. Beim ersten Hören merkt man wenig von der immensen Arbeit, die in dem Edit steckt.  (…) Im Grunde bewegt sich das Ergebnis an den Grenzen der Hörbarkeit. Man muss schon sehr gut aufpassen, um die Unterschiede zwischen den einzelnen Interpretationen zu bemerken. Aber es gibt noch etwas anderes, das sich permanent ändert, denn jede Aufnahme hat einen anderen Klang. Konzentriert man sich ganz und gar auf das Stück, fallen Details auf, die normalerweise keine Rolle spielen. Der Klang wechselt von schwachem zu deutlichem Rauschen oder von einer trockenen zu einer hallenden Raumakustik.

Neben den unterschiedlichen Dirigenten geht es Goldmann auch um die Leute im Hintergrund einer Einspielung: die Tonmeister. Was man bei einer Schallplatte eigentlich nicht bemerken soll, wird hier zur musikalischen Variable. Goldmann nimmt einen mit auf die Reise durch verschiedene Konzertsäle, in denen die Mikrofone mal ganz dicht an die Instrumente gerückt sind oder sie wie aus weiter Ferne klingen lassen.

Wie kommt man auf eine solche Idee? “Das Stück bietet sich dafür an, weil es diese Blöcke hat, es ändert sich ständig etwas, das Metrum oder das Tempo.” Er sieht in der Komposition daher eine Edit-Struktur angelegt. Dass seine minimalistische Arbeit auch bei gründlichem Nachdenken wenig greifbar bleibt, macht sie für Goldmann gerade spannend: “Ich mag es, wenn sich ein Abgrund auftut.” (…) Sollte das Rätsel die Spitze an Sinn sein, dann hat Stefan Goldmann ein höchst sinnvolles Kunstwerk geschaffen.” (Tim Caspar Boehme)

The Wire: “Stefan Goldmann takes a longer view of history than many of his Minimal Techno peers. His mix album from earlier this year was entitled The Empty Foxhole, in homage to Ornette Coleman, and this new project is a wholehearted immersion in the work of Igor Stravinsky. […] Here, he’s executed a plunderphonic collage whose nearest precedent would be John Oswald’s Grayfolded CD of 1994, in which Oswald stitched together a CD’s worth of the improvised bits from successive renderings of The Grateful Dead’s Dark Star. Goldmann’s gone a step further, drawing attention to the way the classical recording industry thrives on the competition between multiple versions of the same piece. […] The work is so subtle, it takes a number of hearings to discern exactly what’s going on. After a while, your ear begins to acclimatise to the microscopic alterations in background noise, studio acoustics and up-or down-ratcherings of intensity. This works on a number of levels, both as a ‘perfect’ version composed of the very best moments from the available range; to a critique of the way modern classical recordings are usually, in themselves, assembled from hundreds of minute digital takes, in quest of perfection; to a conceptual highlighting of the phonographic impurities that give classical recordings their unique imprint even as they strive to make the process invisible. Goldmann’s explorations of these nuances are all more welcome emanating from someone who works in a field in which history is more commonly deemed to have finished.”

De Volkskrant: Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps in 146 stukjes – volgens de Berlijnse dj Stefan Goldmann kan dat. In zijn montage klinkt om de zoveel seconden een andere opname van een ander orkest, spelend in een andere concertzaal onder een andere dirigent. Dit in 146 knippen. Een scheermesje is het logo. Hoe knap Goldmanns dj-draaiwerk is, ervaar je bij het besef dat geen van de overgangen opvalt. Eigenlijk is het alsof er één Sacre klinkt, net als in de bijgeleverde opname uit 1957 onder Monteux.