Leif Inge Brings 24 Hours of Beethoven to 18 Rabbit Gallery
Norwegian composer Leif Inge has taken a recording of Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" and stretched it out to 24 hours — about 24 times its normal length — and without changing the pitch. The daylong result came out on two DVDs last year from the Table of the Elements label, that minimalist-mongering concern whose every new ear-startling disc you should by now buy on faith. While you're breathlessly waiting, you can bask in Inge's conceptual tour de force, cleverly titled "9 Beet Stretch" and cut into handy 80-minute segments, at notam02.no/9/index.html.
Inge's stretched-out Beethoven sounds a little wavery in places but usually quite impressive. Crawling across Beethoven's magnum opus with a microscope, so to speak, with every note stretched out to 24 times its normal length, is frighteningly revealing. One thing you learn is that string sections aren't exactly synchronized; those melody notes bleed into one another.
And actually, as Inge seems aware, there is a peculiar appropriateness in stretching Beethoven out to eternity (though instructions for the piece suggest using Mozart's "Requiem" if the "Ninth" isn't available). Even before he wrote the "Ninth" in 1824, Beethoven had become fascinated with stretching out the simple tonic and dominant chords to tremendous length, most notably in the slow finale of his last piano sonata, "Op. 111." The "Ninth" was an attempted return to audience-pleasing normalcy, but had he the courage of his wilder convictions, "9 Beet Stretch" might resemble something he could have come up with.
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