Teatro La Fenice String Quartet
Sunday September 26 at 11:00 a.m.
Sale Apollinee at the Teatro La Fenice
Azio Corghi (1937) Arcs-en-ciel for two violins and viola (1973, 8’)
Rolf Martinsson (1956) String Quartet No.1 (op.1) (1980, 22’), Italian premiere
Azio Corghi jopliszt for violin, viola, cello (2010, 10’) world premiere
Witold Lutoslawsi (1913-1994) String quartet (1964, 25’)
Having made their debut at the Music Biennale only two years ago, the Teatro La Fenice String Quartet is once again a guest in the program of the Festival of Contemporary Music with its fine instrumentalists: Roberto Baraldi and Gianaldo Tatone on the violin, Daniel Formentelli on the viola and Emanuele Silestri on the cello. The program presents works by Azio Corghi – Arcs-en-ciel written in 1973 and Jopliszt, a recent composition that will have its world premiere performance at the Biennale – in addition to the Italian premiere of a piece by Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson, String Quartet n.1, and the only string quartet, composed in 1964, by Polish Maestro Witold Lutoslawski.
A composer with a vast and rather varied production, Azio Corghi established a permanent international reputation in the Eighties, in particular with his musical theatre: from the famous Blimunda (1989) – the protagonist of Memorial del convento by the recently departed Portuguese poet and novelist José Saramago, to the recent parody of Mozart, again with the help of Saramago, in Dissoluto assolto, presented at the Teatro alla Scala in 2005.
Commissioned by the Trio di Como, to whom the piece is dedicated, Arcs-en-ciel is composed of three movements “each characterized by sound production techniques finalized towards the expressive play of timbre for each specific instrumental group – states the author. In the first part, against the busy background of a field of highly acute frequencies, there are lacerations that gradually transform their motion. In the second, the search for colour leads to the involvement of noise. In the third, finally, a stubborn ‘symmetry’ is criss-crossed by echoes of distant melodies”.
Jopliszt, an example of Corghi’s creative vein, full of intelligence and irony, elaborates a piece conceived for solo violin for the Concorso Paganini 2006 in Genoa, Syncopations. “In an attempt to motivate the abstract speculative play that is inherent in composition – writes Corghi explaining the genesis of the piece – I wondered whether there could be a meeting point between musical works with opposite conceptions, belonging to different genres. To find the answer to this question, I matched two pieces originally written for the piano against one another: Nuages gris (1881) by Franz Liszt and Élite Syncopations (1902) by Scott Joplin. The first piece is an andante that oscillates between intervallic movements with an expressionist flavour and timbral colours of an impressionistic quality. The second is a rag, danceable but too ‘sweet’, characterized by thematic cells derived from Chopin. In terms of key, the minor mode of Nuages plays against the major of Élite. From a harmonic point of view, the extreme chromaticism of late Liszt is only apparently reflected in the chromatic sliding by Joplin while the melodic motifs, in each of the compositions, are generated by arpeggios of chords. The principle of the syncopated rhythm establishes a genuine point of encounter: the figures by ‘augmentation’ of Nuages are opposed to the figures by ‘diminution’ of Élite. They are figures that generate a mosaic of fitted pieces within alternating agogic-dynamic permutations”.
The piece in the program by Martinsson was his debut work, the String Quartet n.1, which the Swedish composer recalls writing after he listened to a particularly fascinating string quartet, written by his friend and composer Bjorn Tryggve Johansson. “Almost six months later, I was more or less trying to copy the piece, it had impressed me so! But after the concert, when I compared my piece to my friend’s, I realized they were completely different, and the fact that I had found my own way for my first composition made me feel surprised and proud at the same time. I think that this is what composition consists in: transforming impressions through the mind”.
Like so many Eastern European authors, Lutoslawski assimilated Bartòk’s experience, and as he progressively entered the sphere of western music evolution – through Cage and Boulez, he concentrated on the formal aspects of the work, which he created in a totally original way. Therefore, for his string quartet, Lutoslawski wrote a piece that invites freedom of interpretation according to his own highly personal aleatoric technique – which he defines as “controlled aleatoric music” – that experiments with the suggestions offered by the radio broadcast of Cage’s Piano Concerto in 1958. The four instrumental parts are prepared separately and are not reunited in one complete score. The story goes that when the LaSalle quartet asked for the score for the premiere performance, Lutoslawski’s wife cut the parts out and glued them onto boxes – which Lutoslawski called mobiles – with instructions so that the performers would know exactly when to proceed from one mobile to the next.
Rolf Martinsson (Sweden, 1956) – He is one of the most frequently performed Swedish contemporary composers. His collaboration with trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger, which began in the late 1990’s, opened the doors to the international scene for him with the premiere performance of the Bridge trumpet concerto, accompanied by the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra. The collaboration with trombonist Christian Lindberg also contributed to Martinsson’s international success: the Fairlight trombone concerto, which won the Swedish Music Publisher Award in 2005 for “the most significant contemporary music of the year”. In the spring of 2009 Anne Sofie von Otter performed the world premiere of Martinsson’s Orchestral Songs in the Concert Hall of Copenhagen, followed by a concerto in the Malmö Concert Hall and in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. His works have been performed by many orchestras – the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Søndergård, the Gävle Symphony Orchestra/Eva Ollikainen – and by soloists such as Håkan Hardenberger, Christian Lindberg, Mats Lidström, Magnus Båge, Jan Stigmer, Duo Gelland, Anders Kilström e Jacques Werup. His production includes about 100 works in which he addresses various musical genres: symphonism, choir music, chamber music, radio-dramas.
Since 2002 Rolf Martinsson has been composer-in-residence and artistic consultant for the Mälmo Symphony Orchestra; he has also taught Musical Theory, Arrangement and Composition at the Mälmo Academy of Music since 2006. Martinsson has been represented by the Gehrmans Musikförlag of Stockholm since January 2006.