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Die Harke und der Spaten

About the love life of garden tools 

by Sven-Åke Johansson

Stage piece with 8 scenes for a singer/speaker and music ensemble 

Original cast:
Alexander von Schlippenbach: piano                       
Wolfgang Fuchs: saxophone                       
Wolter Wierbos: trombone                       
Guido Mazzon: trumpet                      
Maarten van Regteren-Altena: bass                       
Sven-Åke Johansson: vocals, accordeon

Direction and stage design: Sven-Åke Johansson
Premiere: 1983 at the reopening of the Hebbel-Theater Berlin (Büro Berlin Produktion: „Im Theater“) 

Cast Allentown Artcenter USA 1985
Guido Mazzon: trumpet
Georg Cartwright: tenor saxophone
Anne LeBaron: harp
Tom Cora: cello 
Alexander von Schlippenbach: piano
Sven-Åke Johansson: vocal, accordion, percussion

Cast Zurich Theater am Neumarkt 1985 
Günter Christmann: trombone
Wolfgang Fuchs: saxophone
Torsten Müller: double bass
Alexander von Schlippenbach: piano
Paul Lovens: percussion 
Guido Mazzon: trumpet
Sven-Åke Johansson: accordion, vocal

Cast Berlin Podewil 1996 
Matthias Bauer: double bass 
Axel Dörner: trumpet
Mats Gustafsson: saxophone
Per-Åke Holmlander: tuba, trombone
Sten Sandell: piano
Raymond Strid: percussion
Sven-Åke Johansson: accordion, vocal

Ystad theater (Sweden) 1998 (same cast as Berlin) 
Discography: UMFR-CD04

The rake and the spade stand downstage; they are leaned onto each other in eight different arrangements throughout the performance. Meanwhile forceful puns and witty observations spew from the performer eloquently, comments about the birth, character, and being of garden tools. His rhythmic lecture requires the deployment of the entire body, even when the improvised nonsense – garlands of words – herald the "birch leaf jamboree", the "three-toothed plate", and the "potato fire". Six experienced improvisational musicians stood at Johansson's side and filled the recurring model of solo or ensemble segment, text lecture, tutti, and new configuration of the garden tools, with life. Such harmonious, balanced, and grandiosely musicalized group improvisations might not be so often available to our ears. They never failed to embody the character of each conjured scene, like the melancholy of the "spider web constructions in the moonlight", which Sten Sandell seduced into high sixth chords on the piano, and the restrained cymbal sounds of which Axel Dörner (trumpet) encircled with his dense, noise-like playing approach. Alongside contrabass and tuba, Mats Gustafsson (saxophone) completed the ensemble. His solo, alternating between vocal sounds, wind noises, and percussive tones, referred to language, as did Johansson's dadaistic lecture on musical structure. In such contexts, the actual value of the piece lies far from the scenic accessories, which enlightened us, at the end, as to where the little cemetery shovels come from. Volker Straebel, 26.10.1996, Der Tagesspiegel

  • Track 5 "Herbstliches aufräumen"