Geometrie Variabili. Chamber Ensemble of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI
Tuesday 27 September at 8:00 p.m.
GEOMETRIE VARIABILI. Chamber Ensemble of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai
Unsuk Chin (1961) Gougalon (Scenes from a Street Theatre) (2009, 14')
Giorgio Colombo Taccani (1961) Timor panico (2001, 7')
Massimo Botter (1965) And at the end... The scream for oboe and 14 instruments (2007, 12’)
Staffan Storm (1964) Quaestio temporis (2005, 14’)
Thomas Adés (1971) Living Toys (1993, 17’)
conductor Marco Angius
Conducted by Marco Angius, the orchestral ensemble of the RAI, a constant presence at the Music Biennale, this year will present a group of composers with a consolidated language, firmly established on the international scene: Italian composers Giorgio Colombo Taccani and Massimo Botter, Korean Unsuk Chin, Swedish composer Staffan Storm and English composer Thomas Adés, the youngest and the most popular of the group.
Timor panico, composed in 2001 by Giorgio Colombo Taccani is “a piece that captures the audience with still, sunny and nostalgic atmospheres, in which sinuously dramatic parentheses portray the fear that, for just one moment, the hot-tempered god Pan, he who fills the forests with mysterious sounds, might suddenly wake up” (David Giovanni Leonardi). It is in fact the hottest hour of the day that evokes this mythologically-inspired piece, “when all of nature lies still and dazed, no song, no sound is allowed. The god Pan, with his harsh ill temper, is resting, tired of loving and early morning hunting. It would be terrifying if he woke up early, as terrifying as the mysterious sounds with which he fills the forests to taunt ill-fated travelers. So silence it is: timor panico”.
Gougalon, the suggestive title chosen by Unsuk Chin for her piece, is an ancient High German word that means “to fool someone using fake magic”. It is a sort of Dulcamara of the East that the Korean composer is thinking of in this reverieprovoked by her first visit to China in 2008. In Canton and Hong Kong she discovered, amid the ultra-modern buildings, the peddlers on the street that reminded her of Seoul in the Sixties, and the amateur companies of actors and musicians that toured from one village to another “to palm off home-made medicines, which were ineffective at best. To attract the inhabitants of the village, they would stage a show with songs, dances and acrobatics… It was all extremely amateurish and a bit kitsch, yet it sparked incredible emotions in the spectators: this was not surprising considering that it was practically the only form of entertainment in an existence marked by poverty and repressive institutions. There were no such things as electronic games or toys. So everyone in town was there to watch these ‘great events’, which brought with them many others looking for profit: fortune-tellers, acrobats and peddlers… Yet Gougalon does not refer directly to the lowly amateurial music of this street theatre. The memories described above do nothing but provide a structure, just as the titles of the movements are not intended to be descriptive. This piece is about an imaginary form of popular music that is stylized, broken inside and only apparently primitive”.
And at the end…The scream This piece, written in 2007 by Massimo Botter, alludes to the exertion and the mystery in the birth of a new life, which for an artist is the genesis of a new piece, and in this case metaphorically occupies the space of nine long months. “From here the macro-structure of the composition is subdivided into 9 parts grouped into 3 great periods (3+3+3) – explains the author. In the first large section the soloist, a protagonist searching for a form that defines him as such, is constantly struggling to establish a dialogue with the rest of the world (the ensemble), which does not welcome but fights him. In the central part he seems to abandon himself to external forces, to the ensemble which takes over, as if to protect him, embracing him, guiding him in soft quarter-tone movements. In the final phase the soloist returns, and establishes his identity as a being who is now ready for life, and begins to exchange his first signals with the outside world. Hence the ascent to the climax with the dramatic joy of an explosion, the ‘liberating’ scream that seals the right to be the new life introducing itself to the world”.
One of the most brilliant and successful British composers, with exclusive contracts for publishing with Faber and recording with Ecm, including Powder Her Face, the work that brought him international fame, Thomas Adès is also the youngest composer to ever win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2000, when he was only 29. Now that he is 40, he is in great demand in his twin role as composer and conductor.
Living Toys was written in 1993 for the London Sinfonietta and draws inspiration form the fantasies of a child, from his dreams of adventures filled with monsters and heros: “When the man asked him what the boy wanted to be when he grew up, the boy did not mention any of their professions, as everyone hoped he would, but answered: I will become a hero, and will dance with angels and bulls, and I will fight bulls and soldiers, and will die a hero in space, and will be buried as a hero. Seeing him standing there, the man felt small, understanding that they themselves were not heroes, and that their lives were less real than the dreams that surrounded the child like toys” (Spanish anonymous).
Giorgio Colombo Taccani (Milan – Italy, 1961) pursued classical studies, graduating in Modern Literature from the Università Statale di Milano, under the guidance of Francesco Degrada, with a thesis in the History of Music dedicated to Bruno Maderna’s Hyperion; in October 1993 this thesis was awarded the Missiroli Prize from the City of Bergamo during a conference dedicated to post-war Italian musical theatre. In parallel, he studied music, earning a diploma in piano in 1984 and in composition in 1989 at the Conservatory in Milan, first under Pippo Molino and then Azio Corghi, and later earning his Diploma at the master course in Composition held by Franco Donatoni at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he won a SIAE scholarship. He also attended master classes with Azio Corghi and György Ligeti, and was selected to participate in the 1995 summer workshop dedicated to computer music organized by IRCAM.
His compositions have won awards and honourable mentions in national and international competitions, and are regularly performed in Italy and abroad (ISCM World New Music Days - Växjö, Sweden, Sibelius Academy - Helsinki, Nuova Consonanza - Rome, Gaudeamus - Amsterdam, Ferienkurse für Neue Musik - Darmstadt, Music Festival - Strasbourg, Fylkingen Festival - Sweden, La Biennale di Venezia, RAI NuovaMusica, Società Aquilana dei Concerti, Auditorio Nacional de Música – Madrid). From 1991 to 2001 he worked with electronic music at the Studio AGON – acoustics computer technology music – Centro Studi Armando Gentilucci in Milan. His musicological work is dedicated to the production of the Italian twentieth century. From 1992 to 1999 he taught Composition at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan. Since 1999 he has taught Composition at the “G.Verdi” Conservatory in Turin. He is published by Edizioni Suvini Zerboni in Milan.
Unsuk Chin (Seoul – South Korea, 1961) studied piano and composition at the National University in her native city, Seoul, South Korea, in particular composition with Sukhi Kang, and made her debut as a pianist in 1984. The same year her composition Figures was selected for the ISCM World Music Day in Canada and the Unesco Rostrum of Composers. Thanks to a DAAD scholarship she moved to Berlin (where she also worked with electronic music) and to Hamburg, where she studied with György Ligeti through 1988. Since then the Korean composer and pianist has lived and worked in Berlin. In 2004 she won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for her Violin Concerto. Her works include: Fantaisie mécanique and Xi, commissioned by the Ensemble InterContemporain, ParaMetaStrings, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, Miroirs des temps, commissioned by the BBC for the Hilliard Ensemble and the London Philarmonic, Kala, commissioned by the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic and conducted in its world premiere performance by Peter Eötvös (2001). She was composer-in-residence at the Deutsche Symphonieorchester Berlin in 2001/02, which performed her Violin Concerto conducted by Kent Nagano, with soloist Viviane Hagner. Her most recent works include: Cantatrix Sopranica for two sopranos, counter-tenor and ensemble (2004/05), commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, St Pölten Festival (Austria), the Ensemble InterContemporain and musikFabrik; the opera Alice in Wonderland, which made its debut in 2007 at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich inaugurating the Munich Opera Festival. She has been the composer-in-residence at the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra since 2006. Her work is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.
Massimo Botter (Como – Italy, 1965). After earning his diploma in piano, he began to study composition with Azio Corghi earning his diploma in 1996 with Alessandro Solbiati at the Conservatory in Milan. The winner of important national and international competitions (including the XXI Premio Reina Sofia in Madrid for orchestra 2003, the Premio Internacional Orquestra Simfònica de Illes Balears Ciutat de Palma 2000, The Next Millenium Composition Award Memoriam Takemitsu competition in Tokyo 1997 and the Lisbon Biennial 1994), he has participated in many festivals (including the Auditorium Nacional de Musica de Madrid 2010, La Quincena Musical de San Sebastián 2010, Théâtre de l’Opera of St. Etienne 2010, Le NEM Saison in Montréal 2009, Milano Musica 2009, MiTo 2008, Mostly Modern in Dublin 2006, the Guggenheim Museum Festival in Bilbao 2005, the Youth Music Festival in Kiev 2001). His music has been broadcast by important international radio and television stations. It has been recorded on CDs by Stradivarius, Zeitland and the Fundaciò ACA in Palma de Mallorca. He has written the piano reduction of the works Partenope by E. Morricone, La Señorita Cristina by Luís de Pablo and Una Via Crucis by E. Morricone, A. Poce, M. Dall’Ongaro, E. Macchi.
Staffan Storm (Karlskrona – Sweden, 1964) began to study arrangement, composition and music theory at the College of Music in Malmö in 1986, continuing his studies in composition through 1992. His most important teachers were Rolf Martinsson and Hans Gefors, but he also studied with Bent Sørensen e Trevor Wishart. He attended many courses in composition, in particular the course at the Centre Acanthes in Avignon and the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. The composer himself underlines the significance of his contacts with Elliott Careter, Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Ferneyhough in the context of his artistic development.
A music critic has described Staffan Storm’s music as “imaginative, sometimes violent and hammering, sometimes evasive”. The character of his music varies from work to work: in one of his first pieces for orchestra, De Profundis (1988), for example, there are clear ties to Late Romanticism; in Förvittrad Sfinx (1990), the music strictly follows the Renaissance style of the text and is brimming with melismas; whereas Abschattung (1997) is characterized by a type of pure, strangely fluctuating yet coherent music. Staffan Storm uses a wide variety of composition techniques, that allow space for both intuitive ideas and rigorously structural processes. His music has been performed in several editions of the UNM Festival (dedicated to young Nordic music), at the Swedish Music Spring Festival, at the Contemporary Music Days in Malmö, at the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam, in Darmstadt.
Since 1993 he has taught the history of music and music theory at the College of Music in Malmö and at the Department of Musicology at the University of Lund.
Thomas Adès (London – UK, 1971) studied composition and piano (Lutine Prize as an instrumentalist) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, pursuing his studies with Alexandre Goehr at King’s College in Cambridge (graduating with distinction in 1992). His first recognized compositions, written in the Nineties, just two years later won him an exclusive publishing contract with Faber. He distinguished himself as a pianist in the Park Lane Group Young Artists Platform and, after the performance of his Chamber Symphony op.2 on the BBC, he was hired in 1993 as associate composer by the Hallé Orchestra. Over the following years, his works were performed in important contexts by the London Sinfonietta, the Endelion Quartet, by pianist Imogen Cooper, in the BBC Proms by K.Nagano, until he made his debut at the theatre with Powder Her Face, at the Almeida Opera; the work was acclaimed all over the world. The Tempest, his second opera, was commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London, where it premiered in 2004; his Violin Concerto in 2005 was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and by the Berliner Philharmonic; In Seven Days for video, piano and orchestra, composed in 2008, was performed for the first time at the South Bank in London and in Los Angeles. His international success is demonstrated by the many portraits dedicated to his music: Musica Nova in Helsinki (1999), Salzburg Easter Festival (2004), Présences on Radio France (2007), Carnegie Hall (2007/08).
He has been the Britten Professor at the Royal Academy of Music since 1997, Artistic Director of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and (in the year 1999) of the Aldeburgh Festival. EMI has recorded many monographic CDs of his work.