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Beethovenfest

Beethoven and more podcast #20: Surround Sound

Surround sound in real-time with no electrical transformation: Martin Grubinger & Friends let their music flow through the Beethoven Hall and give a breathtaking performance.

Multi-percussionist Martin Grubinger

Multi-percussionist Martin Grubinger

Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001)

Persephassa for 6 percussionists

Martin Grubinger (percussion)

Leonhard Schmidinger (percussion)

Rainer Furthner (percussion)

Sabine Pyrker (percussion)

Rizumu Sugishita (percussion)

Slavik Stakhov (percussion)

MP3 recorded in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 25, 2010 by Deutsche Welle (DW)

Two percussionists stand at the left and right of the stage, four more stand left and right at the front and back of the hall - literally creating "surround sound." As a result, the best spots in the Beethoven Hall this time around were smack in the center. The first notes of "Persephassa for 6 percussionists" made it clear it would be a breathtaking concert.

How could six musicians standing so far apart from each other achieve such an extremely precise, complete sound? An electronic metronome coordinated the whole event, with a click sounding in their ears that told them to speed up or slow the tempo. The programming of the metronome alone was a finely orchestrated feat, and a laborious process, percussionist Martin Grubinger told the audience.

Numerous contemporary composers have written music for Grubinger, who was just 27 years old at this Beethoven Festival concert in September 2010. Blessed with a photographic memory, he can normally play without a score in front of him. But when it comes to composer Iannis Xenakis's music, "normal" just doesn't cut it…

Author: Rick Fulker

Editor: Louisa Schaefer

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