There seems to have been a healthy dose of Stockhausen in LA in the last 12 months. I've written on auscultations.net about three other concerts featuring Stockhausen works, and I'm sure there were others. On February 23, 2013, Southwest Chamber Music gave the US premiere of Nebadon Aus Klang. On March 27 and 28, LA Sonic Odyssey presented the original 12-channel version of Kontakte. And, in September, Nicholas Isherwood performed Capricorn with People Inside Electronics. Stimmung is the perfect crest of this Stockhausen wave. It is a well known piece - though one I never expected to hear live, and this was the ideal time, place, and performers for it.
Isherwood worked extensively with Stockhausen, and he is one of the vocalists most qualified to realize the composer's intentions. His Vox Nova ensemble, as well as his own fantastic vocal performance, displayed why Isherwood is such a highly valued interpreter of contemporary music.
From the onset, there was a clear performative emphasis on the sung words being envelope filters rather than carriers of information, with each syllable highlighting different frequencies by the shape of the mouth. Such an approach would be aligned with Stockhausen's body of work with electronics. While the sung names of various deities may have been invocations, their musical function was as manners of articulation - vehicles of the semiotic rather than the symbolic.
Meanwhile, the most surprising revelation of the evening was the spoken text, which I had never heard in English (the piece is meant to be performed in a venue's local language). The eroticism of these poems was a complete surprise, since nothing else in the piece points to them in any obvious way. I had only heard the piece in German, and had no idea what the words meant.
After the concert, it was illuminating to walk up and view the performers' scores. Each singer had re-notated the piece to make it most immediately accessible to their own relationship to music. Each performer had a clear and distinct voice, and the combination of them was something uniquely powerful. The personality of each voice was also reflected in how different each singer's re-imagined performance score was.
Ich hänge im Triolengitter: Mein Leben mit Karlheinz Stockhausen, is still only available in German.