Stockhausen's 'Inori' with Alain Louafi

Stockhausen’s Inori is an incredibly intense show. From an academic point of view it is brilliant and aurally it’s aesthetic is astounding. However, this is not a show for Brighton Fringe. It is an extremely niche show and for those who don’t have a prior interest in the subject or form, it’s not going to be a show to be enjoyed. Luckily the majority of the audience must have done because they stayed for the duration but for those who were ill-prepared, they began to drop like flies and sneak out of St. Nicholas’ church early on and disappear into the night.

The monotonous movements were impressive in their duration and felt almost spiritual in the setting of the church

The piece was introduced by a music scholar and formed part of the Crossing Boundaries: Music at the Edge series of events bycontemporary music education group MOOT. This short lecture on the complexities of Stockhausen’s piece presented the esoteric tone of the performance almost immediately.

For those unaware of Stockhausen’s work, he was a 20th and 21st Century German composer, known for his ground-breaking and pioneering work in electronic music and who held a host of music-related accolades. Inori, written in the 1970s, is considered to be one of his key works and it was moving to experience but rather disappointing that it wasn’t live. However, as the introduction stated, this has been performed before using two full orchestras and a percussion set, which was probably a bit out of the budget for a Brighton Fringe show.

The piece, we were told, is divided into five phrases and within these are three parts: melody, echo and pause. If you listened very carefully this was actually discernible, even to an untrained ear, and did provide a comforting coherence to the overall show.

Alain Louafi was the solo performer and was positioned on a rather small stage at the front of the church. Consequently, this made him quite difficult to observe because he spent most of his time on his knees. Throughout the 73 minute composition he performed a series of 13 repetitive movements as though following a ritual or meditating in prayer. The monotonous movements were impressive in their duration and felt almost spiritual in the setting of the church; after a while, it was impossible not to find yourself lost in these hypnotic gestures that had been so carefully accomplished.

Louafi was mesmerising to watch and rather than just miming along to the music, his performance was often most poignant when he wasn’t moving at all.

Leaving the church we gathered outside and discussed what we had just witnessed, what did it mean? Did it “mean” anything at all? The gestures had been repeated to this piece for over 40 years, which added to its air of mysticism. Yet, having said all of this, regrettably it is not a show I would recommend unless you have a specific interest in the genre. 73 minutes is a long time to commit to viewing a piece that contains just 13 movements but if you enjoy a durational performance or are aware of the work of Stockhausen, then this is a masterful and most enjoyable example.

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

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Performances

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The Blurb

Two performances of ‘Inori’ (‘Adorations’), an unique mime-dance opera, one character responding to music through a series of gestures drawn from a variety of different spiritual traditions and faiths. Performed by the legendary Alain Louafi, who created the role for this masterpiece.

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