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HANS OTTE - Orient:Occident - Minimum:Maximum (Touching Extremes)::

Hans Otte - Minimum:maximum / orient:occidentHans Otte, besides being a renowned pianist and composer, was the director of music department at Radio Bremen from 1959 to 1984. His music is highly individual, uncomparable to anything else, as clearly showed by the two pieces contained in this CD. "Orient:Occident" was born as a simultaneous concert in 1973 in Stockholm and Bremen; tapes of text-sound are layered with millimetric precision, constituting a dramatically theatrical background to cyclical repetitive burst of organ arpeggios whose mechanical dissonance becomes a perfect contrasting force to foreign idioms, syllabications, long sighs and breaths. This version sustains its 41+ minutes well, even if I would love being able to experience the music together with the gestural/pictorial world to which it is linked. "Minimum:Maximum" is a shorter reflection for tape, oboe and clarinet; slow, sad woodwind melodies move calmly over a quick sequence which implies a minor chord. Its nice flavour comes as a bit of a relief after the serious intensity of the longer track but it obviously does not equal "Orient:Occident"'s introspective power. - Massimo Ricci

"Hans OTTE: minimum : maximum (1973); orient : occident (1977). Karl-Erik Welin, Gerd Zacher (keyboards); Ingo Goritzki (oboe), Hans-Wilhelm Goetzke (clarinet). Pogus 21037-2 (issued from 1973 and 1986 Radio Bremen tapes)

Otte’s bubbly minimum : maximum is a mid-70s artifact. These Radio Bremen tapes capturing the 1973 performance (a simultaneous concert in Stockholm and Bremen) are frisky and bright. Even though the keyboards’ treble patterns are overtly minimal, Cage and Tudor clearly swayed Otte’s thinking. The blippy organ / Moog synthesizer, the interspersed breathing noises, the French and German word collages, and even the oft-repeated “Ich” may grate. It’s evident that this composer didn’t have to impress anybody (unlike Jodlowski, Herrmann or Newski some 30 years later). orient : occident unrolls another minimalist carpet upon which oboe and clarinet spin luxuriant notes. Here too the spluttering synthesizer tape invokes Peter Max colors. Computer perkiness and human breath are perfectly balanced. How delightful that Pogus issued this disc. Is there more such waiting to be rescued? Man, those were the days!" - La Folia

Hans Otte is best known for his piano music (mostly The Book of Sounds), but his more experimental works have yet to be disseminated at large. This Pogus release salvages two works composed in the '70s and recorded by Radio Bremen. They portray an artist profoundly influenced by John Cage's concepts yet exploring his very own forms. Performed simultaneously in Stockholm and Bremen (although the details of this are not revealed), "minimum:maximum" is "an environment for two organists." This 41-minute piece features keyboardists Karl-Erik Welin and Gerd Zacher trading metrically rigid, Philip Glass-like lines on various keyboards ranging from what sounds like a harmonium to a miniMoog. These parts are accompanied and occasionally supplanted by a complex tapestry of German, English, and French voices reciting commands, verbal affirmations ("I take," "I think," etc.), and the single word "Ich" (German for "I"). Electronic treatments complete the picture. Showing little movement over three quarters of an hour, the piece could almost be mistaken for a sound installation, its numerous details and puzzling juxtapositions intriguing and captivating the listener for its whole duration. In comparison to the rather crude and demanding outlook of "minimum:maximum," "orient:occident" offers a soothing 14 minutes of slow-paced music for oboe (Ingo Goritzki), clarinet (Hans-Wilhelm Goetzkem), and tape. The tape part consists of a continuous electronic loop based on a two-note sequence that serves as a backdrop for the seductive, slightly Indian-sounding melodies of the woodwinds. - François Couture, All Music Guide

Hans Otte is german pianist and composer, pretty unknown but invaluable for the translucent aphoristic nature of his works, peculiar to such classic characters of XXth century music as Olivier Messiaen and Philip Glass. His most famous work is "The Book of Sounds", twelve-piece series of mixed style between post-classical, minimalism and new age music. Here we can hear two pieces, recorded back in the mid 70's. The first one is 41 minutes long "Minimum : Maximum", collage piece based on lost glockenspiel/organ passages, atmospheric noises, sighes and ocassional texts spoken in French (which is not understandable for me at all) and German languages. The rhythmic key of piece is housed in the word "ich" (I, in English), pronounced repeatedly through all the time with distinctive timber changing. This depersonalisation is strong element of the composition: you will lost any signs of confidence. The second piece is more intense and lasts only 14 minutes: it can be described by running staccato sounds on the background, and the leading voice is slow and sad melody produced by various wind instruments. This one should be nice soundtrack for any epic cartoon about hard days of the past. Really beautiful, very fragile and generally quiet - IEM Webzine

Past Feature Article: If, Bwana / Al Margolis featured in UK's Wire Magazine
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