Minimalism and maximalism
The 56th International Festival of Contemporary Music is titled +EXTREME-
and refers to the musical minimalisms and maximalisms of our times. From 6th to 13th October 2012
, eight intense days of events featuring concerts, sound installations, ateliers, audio-visual performances and works of musical theatre that will offer the public 64 premieres, including 31 world premieres.
“What is particularly striking in the musical landscape of our day
– says the new director Ivan Fedele
– are the extreme orientations
: minimalisms and maximalisms [video
] that seek out the outlying regions of musical language, apparently antithetical approaches that share the radical nature of their aesthetic-poetic intent, de facto abandoning the political correctness
of pieces that work well
or sound good”.
The 56th Festival will present some of the significant actors of these “excessive” practices, contextualized and examined in relation to the “classics” of radicalism: from Brian Ferneyhough’s counterpoint tangles, for example, to the saturation [video
] achieved by forty-year olds Franck Bedrossian and Raphaël Cendo, to the dematerialization of sound by Salvatore Sciarrino and the mystic striving of Sofija Gubajdulina, the music built on the minimum unit of a single bit by thirty-year-old Tristan Perich, and the hypnotic fixedness of Kirill Shirikov or the expressive urgency of Nikolai Popov and Alexander Khubeev, intriguingly audacious Russian composers just barely over the age of twenty.
The 56th International Festival Contemporary Music will be inaugurated on Saturday 6 October
with the winners of the Lions awarded by the Biennale di Venezia: Pierre Boulez
] who, as previously announced, will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
, and the Quartetto Prometeo
, a young but recognized Italian chamber music ensemble, which will be awarded the Silver Lion,
a prize conferred by the Biennale to new musical groups.
With a repertory that ranges from Bach to Sciarrino and a recognizable performing quality, chosen as the resident ensemble at the Britten Pears Academy in Aldeburgh in 1998 and invited to perform in the finest Italian and international concert seasons, the Quartetto Prometeo will play in the Sala delle Colonne at Cà Giustinian (6:00 PM) in a concert that cuts to the quick of Extreme. The static soundscapes of Phil Niblock, born in 1933, one of the pioneers of American minimalism, will be followed by the melodic minimalism of German composer Carola Bauckholt, ending with the distorted sounds of French composers Franck Bedrossian and Raphaël Cendo, exponents of a real aesthetic movement known as “saturationism”, an “acid” derivation of French spectralism.
The concert at the Teatro alle Tese (8:00 pm) will feature an indivisible duo: Pierre Boulez
and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.
On the programme is Sur incises
by Pierre Boulez, composer, conductor, theoretician, a fervent advocate of twentieth-century music, in one of the most spectacular pieces of his recent production: following a module the composer is fond of, it develops and expands the original matrix Incises
, a fragment for solo piano. The two pieces will be separated by the equally irresistible Sonata for two pianos and percussions
by Béla Bartók.
The impression is that of an astral universe, composed of cyber sounds, that ample portion of electronic music
that is driven by the inexorable progress of technological innovation, which produces and invents sounds in an acousmatic dimension, totally bereft of acoustic instruments.
To the encounter between music and computer science, the 56th Festival will dedicate an important event named after IanniX
, a multimedia platform that elaborates visual and sound data, making the relationship between the graphic sign and the musical event
more immediate [video
]. It is like a blackboard on which a LED is used to draw various typologies of geometric drawings – straight lines, curves, polygons, solids – that translate into sound. The name pays tribute to the visionary French-Greek composer Iannis Xenakis, who was the first in 1975 to conceive a system of “graphic sounds” known as Upic; Iannix is the most advanced evolution of this system, based on the research studies of Thierry Coduys
and his Parisian laboratory La Kitchen, with the support of the French Ministry of Culture. IanniX today can dialogue not only in the musical sphere, but with a large number of languages – from OSC (the iPad “speaks” OSC) to MIDI – to support the modern network of technology.
The Festival will dedicate an atelier to this method of visual composition, which exploits the creativity of graphic design to identify musical structures. It will be led by Coduys himself for 8 selected composers, and be divided into three phases: a preliminary phase to study the Iannix language (3 > 5 May), a musical composition phase (7 > 9 June) and a production phase (5 > 11 October). This production phase will present its final outcome on October 11th at the Teatro alle Tese with six world premieres by Ivàn Solano, Marcello Liverani, Cesare Saldicco, Julian Scordato, Stefanio Alessandretti and Giovanni Sparano, Davide Gagliardi and Victor Nebbiolo Di Castri. It will be a concert-performance, because in this practice, the composer is also the performer who manipulates the score with his gesture.
Another image from space
Three other events in the Festival take place in an analogous sphere, similarly animated by the idea of amplifying sounds, extending them, manipulating them, creating them from nothing. This is the territory of electro-acoustic music, which generates a dialogue between traditional instruments and the entire range of electronic supports progressively offered by developing technology – reel-to-reel tape decks, radios, recorders, sensors and technological “prostheses” up to modern-day laptops. Thus, echoes and “subtle” energy will infuse the concert at the Conservatory in Venice on October 9th (Concert Hall, 3:00 PM), conceived by flutist Federica Lotti, a student of Roberto Fabbriciani and Severino Gazzelloni, assisted here by the wizard of sound Alvise Vidolin, who produced the electronic works of the greatest Italian composers, Nono, Berio, Sciarrino. The concert juxtaposes the pure musical quality of the solo flute in Classifying the thousand shortest sounds in the world by Claudio Ambrosini, in its world premiere performance, with the reverberations between voice and live electronics in the other pieces, which include new works by Luigi Sammarchi and Tao Yu, one of the most highly considered Chinese composers of the new generation, and the experimentations of Corrado Pasquotti and Agostino Di Scipio.
Agostino Di Scipio will also be performing, this time at the computer and live electronics, in a duet with Ciro Longobardi
, one of our most versatile pianists in terms of repertory, improvisation and multimedia projects, in a concert presented in the Sala delle Colonne at Cà Giustinian on October 12th
(at 3:00 pm). The programme runs from the “hi-tech” score by Vittorio Montalti
(Silver Lion at the 2010 Music Biennale) consisting in 6 pieces for solo piano dedicated to and inspired by Martha Argerich, Keith Jarrett, Friedrich Gulda, Bruno Canino, Glenn Gould and Bill Evans, to the “lo-tech”, deliberately scarce to the point of self-annulment, 3 pezzi muti
by Di Scipio
himself, in which “the pianist’s gesture makes contact with the surface of the instrument without really playing, without ‘pressing down’ on the keys” (A. Di Scipio). In the middle, Klavierstuck IX
, with its insistent yet variable structure of a single 4-note chord, and Electronic Music for Piano
, in its first performance with live electronics alone, as it was originally conceived by the author who wrote it on a piece of paper in a Stockholm hotel, adding a series of vague and cryptic notes to ample portions of his Music for Piano.
Cage is also the inspiration for “Out of a landscape”, the concert to be held in the Concert Hall at the Conservatory of Venice on October 8th (3:00 pm) and which builds a “counterpoint” to the Imaginary landscape cycle with new pieces by Luca Richelli, Michele Del Prete and Marco Gasperini. Two variations that start from one point and move out towards other destinations, in a literal interpretation of the instructions that Cage wrote for this famous series, and which might be taken as the epitome of this section of the concerts presented by the Festival: “This is not a physical landscape. It's a landscape in the future. It's as though you used technology to take you off the ground and go like Alice through the looking glass."
From cyber-sound to ecological sound: this is the sound garden
, where the space shapes the sounds or is shaped by the sounds, conceived by a team of specialists – architects, designers, sound engineers, city planners, technological integrators – led by Lorenzo Brusci and Simone Conforti
], gathered under the name of Architettura Sonora and operating since 2009 in the research department instituted by a world leader in the market of loudspeakers.
Together they have developed a project known as Automatic Soundscape Generation (ASG), to regenerate spaces that have been marred by sound pollution. This typology of intervention is based on the concept of interactive and adaptive soundscaping: using sensors that capture the frequencies of the surrounding environment in real time, the machine gathers the information it needs to adapt the artificial soundscape to the sonic characteristics of the space itself. The Automatic Soundscape Generation project redesigns the sound experience in human spaces both indoors and outdoors, with dedicated compositions or selected sounds that are directed, diffused, amplified, deviated or muted. The loudspeakers, integrated with the software and an amplifier, take on a wide variety of shapes, following anatomic or natural suggestions – bells, globes, drops, snails, dolphins – so that they can always rest on the ground or hang from trees, or even hang from a ceiling or a wall. A ring 10 meters in diameter, has the capacity to change the pitch of the sound and thereby modulate its intensity, capturing the sound of people as they move closer or farther away. These particular sculptures will transform the Giardino delle Vergini at the Arsenale into a fantastic interactive soundscape for the entire duration of the Festival.
The Italian ensemble Alter Ego –
the audacious creator of fascinating alchemies between composers (Glass, Kancheli, Hokosawa, Saariaho, Sciarrino), rappers (Frankie HI-NRG), singers (John De Leo), performers (Irvine Arditti, Accroche Note), electronic artists (Robin Rimbaud alias Scanner, Marco Passarani) and visual artists (Michelangelo Pistoletto, D-Fuse) – will turn the spotlight on the intensive presence of American composers
at the 56th Festival with a “monographic” concert at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale on October 8th
(8:00 pm). [video
The concert centres on the seminal figure of Alvin Lucier – founder with Robert Ashle, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma of the legendary Sonic Arts Union in the Sixties – who at the Festival will perform one of his most famous and paradigmatic pieces, I’m sitting in a room, an example of ‘minimal tape music’, followed by pieces that all distil a single note or a single frequency in a sort of psycho-acoustic form: Three translations for Maurizio Mochetti, Fidelio Trio and the world premiere performance of a new creationfor violin, cello, flute, clarinet and piano. On the same wavelength, but elaborated in a different way, is the music by Tristan Perich, composed with a single bit, and the music of Mario Diaz De Leon, which the New York Times defines as music of “hallucinatory intensity”, while the music of Sean Friar is distinguished by its energetic and immediate “maximalism”. All of these composers are aged between 27 and 32, and in addition to their youth, they share the freedom with which they explore different musical experiences: each of them, apart from their academic training, boasts experiences in the field of free improvisation, noise, black metal, blues, rock, hard-core punk, and writes indifferently for ensembles of various origins, classical and not, so that their music has been performed in festivals such as Bang On A Can, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Ars Electronica and Sonar, and in spaces such as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Whitney Museum.
Another cross-section of American music will be presented in a double “short-circuit” for the concert at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale on October 9th
(6:00 pm). This is “Old America/New Russia”
, which not only cross-references the musical scores of American composers Yotam Haber and Terry Riley,
whose timeless piece In C
will be featured, with those of the little more than twenty-year-old Kirill Shirokov, Nikolai Popov and Alexander Khubeev,
trained at the Conservatory in Moscow: it will also match the instruments of the Alter Ego
ensemble against those of the Ex Novo
, another Italian ensemble, a champion of contemporary music. Andrew Quinn
, the versatile Australian video-artist, will be responsible for the sophisticated project of interpreting and translating the concert music into real-time visual images
]: a counterpoint of images “stimulated” by the sound parameters of the compositions.
This segment dedicated to American music will be completed by a figure who is considered central not only to the development of jazz, but more in general that of the music of our times, with regard to experimentation with language and technology. Anthony Braxton
will be at the Teatro alle Tese on October 13th
(8:30 pm) with his most recent ensemble of 12 young musicians (which includes: cornet, saxhorn, clarinet, trombone, oboe, tuba, flute, viola, guitar, double bass, drums, saxophones) founded in 2006 and performing in Europe for the first time ever. A composer, and author of an impressive body of works that range from post free jazz to symphonic music and operas, a poly-instrumentalist and theoretician, Anthony Braxton comes from that breeding ground of musicians that was once the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians founded in 1965 by Muhal Richard Abrahams. An evolutionary musician, Braxton describes his music today as “holistic”, imagining the construction of “a sonic unit that will contain interactive electronic possibilities, moving towards a holographic, three-dimensional space”.
“In the course of their lifetime, the great interpreters become composers of interpretation” wrote Mauricio Kagel. It was in the second half of the twentieth century, when new music began to create serious problems of interpretation and execution, that the new figure emerged of an instrumentalist who could penetrate to the heart of the composition, giving substance to the “sound vision” of the author. This figure of the interpreter-creator, which is so central to the music of our time, and which has engendered not only great soloists but also great chamber ensembles, will be seen in various events at the Festival. A paradigmatic story, in this sense, is the case of Irvine Arditti
and the Freeman Etudes
, a collection of studies for the violin that are an exercise in pure athleticism of the bow. When they were declared impossible to play, Cage suspended their composition and did not finish them until 1988, when Irvine Arditti proved that he could play them even faster than the tempo indicated in the score. For Cage that was the demonstration of the “practicality of the impossible” and for Arditti the consecration as a champion violinist when he performed the complete series in 1991. In Venice, Arditti will perform the cycle of the Freeman Etudes
on October 11th
in the Sala delle Colonne in Cà Giustinian (3:00 pm).
From Irvine Arditti to Mario Caroli
, elected, to stay on the theme, “a Paganini of the flute” [video
]. Undoubtedly considered a prodigy by critics and composers, his biographies confirm that he is currently the only flutist to perform monograph concerts of the entire opus of works for the flute by composers such as Sciarrino, Ferneyhough and Jolivet. Following the pattern of contrasts that distinguishes the Festival, thirty-five year-old Mario Caroli will construct a concert – for his exhibition on October 7th
in the Sala delle Colonne at Cà Giustinian (3:00 pm) – which places Sciarrino
in L’orizzonte luminoso di Aton, L’orologio di Bergson, All’aure in una lontananza,
in contrastwith the tensions and conflicts in the music of Ferneyhough
, in a piece from the cycle Carceri d’invenzione
(modelled on the fantastic architecture invented by Piranesi from which the piece borrows its title), Cassandra’s dream song
and Sisyphus redux,
the latter in its Italian premiere performance. Also on October 7th
, at the Teatro alle Tese (8:30 PM), at the opening of the concert by the Mitteleuropa Orchestra, the solo performance by thirty-year-old Simone Beneventi
, a percussions prodigy, who has played with the Icarus Ensemble, the Mdi Ensemble, Repertorio Zero, and as a soloist for the major lyric symphony orchestras, from La Scala to the Maggio Musicale. On stage, one might well say, with an exquisitely theatrical piece such as One 4
, from the series of number pieces
. A theatrical quality enhanced by the real-time video performance
of Australian artist Andrew Quinn
But even more spectacular will be the concert on October 9th, also at the Tese (8:30 pm), for which Beneventi will prepare an installation of more than 50 suspended percussions, most of them metal (thai, gong, bell plates, ring, vibraphone, chimes, cowbell, operagong, Chinese, ocean drum, rototom, spirit chimes…) which surround the performer like a vibrant sound cage. Beside Beneventi’s metal cube there will be another structure in this Venetian concert, made of tulle, actioned by filaments and sensors by Thierry Coduys, the creator of the Iannix program who thus invents a “plastic double”, a cube parallel to the cube of instruments.
A highlight of the concert is the reconstruction of a score by Fausto Romitelli, the only one he ever wrote for solo percussion, Golfi d’ombra. Composed in 1990, but never published, it was performed for the first and last time in 1993 as a tribute to his master Hugues Dufourt, borrowing the almost complete set of percussions from Dufourt’s piece for solo percussion, Plus Outre. In Romitelli’s score the dynamic indications and instrumentation was missing. Relying on his discovery of various sources and reliable reminiscences, Beneventi was able to put together many of the missing elements and offer a reconstructed version that has finally been published (Ricordi 2012) and will be performed as a world premiere at the Biennale. Twenty years after Golfi d’ombra, Andrea Agostini, Raffaele Grimaldi and Stefano Trevisi, three young Italian composers, have taken up his legacy and created three new works for the same percussion installation.
Just as percussions have broken out of their marginal role since the early twentieth century in contemporary music (Ionisation by Varèse is their manifesto), the guitar, which had traditionally been relegated to the margins of classical music while it was conquering a central role in the more popular spheres, has also been adopted by cultured music as an element that breaks with tradition. Twenty-eight year-old Alberto Mesirca is a master at bringing out the complexity and sound stratification of this instrument, creating a new image for the guitar that is free of its usual idiomatic references. Performing at the Teatro alle Tese on October 11th (8:30 pm), Alberto Mesirca, who has played in concerts at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Auditorium in Valencia and the Barocksaal in Vienna, will open the concert with the Italian premiere of Lassan szállj és hosszan énekelj, haldokló hattyúm, szép emlékezet! ("Fly slowly and sing for a long time my dying swan, my beautiful memory", from Sándor Petofi), written specifically for solo guitar by György Kurtag, reviewed many times over and finally published this year. Also for guitar solo will be the Italian premiere performance of Priapo assiderato by Claudio Ambrosini, and a transcription by the performer himself of another piece by Kurtàg, Splinter, from the Cinque Merrycate, and Addio a Trachis II by Sciarrino, transcribed by Maurizio Pisati.
Confirming the special relationship that binds an author to his performer, Andrew Zolinsky, who as a soloist has accompanied the major orchestras in the Anglo-Saxon world, from the London Sinfonietta to the BBC, constitutes an inseparable pair with Unsuk Chin, an established composer on the international scene, reserving for himself all the premiere performances of the works for the piano composed to date by the Korean author, from London to Paris and now in Venice too. The highlight of the concert, on October 13th at the Sala delle Colonne (3:00 PM), will be the Italian premiere performance of the entire cycle of Six Études by Unsuk Chin. The concert will also feature three Italian premieres by James Dillon and James Clarke, whose music is often associated with so-called “neo-complexity”, respectively with The Book of Elements and Untitled3 and Island; followed by the Klavierstucke V and VII,chapters in variable form from the famous cycle by Stockhausen, and finally, the Second Sonata by Sciarrino.
Performing in Italy for the first time, Andrew Zolinsky will also be the protagonist of the concert that will close the Festival on October 13th at 11:00 PM in the Sala delle Colonne: on the programme For Bunita Marcos by Morton Feldman, one of the finest pieces for the piano from Feldman’s later period, known as the “Long Works”, when the American composer began to write pieces dilated over time – this one lasts 75 minutes – but reducing the density of the material to minimum terms: infinitesimal and rare germinal cells disseminated over lengthy spans of time. An enchanting rarefaction which, it has been written, penetrates the sensual reality of sounds and is the distinctive sign of this inimitable author (Bob Gilmore).
In a very short time, following its debut at the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid in March 2010, Ludus Gravis,
“the first and only ensemble of double basses in the world” (Helmut Failoni), founded by Stefano Scodanibbio
and Daniele Roccato
], has had enormous resonance. Of course, the name Stefano Scodanibbio is linked to the renaissance of the double bass in the Eighties and Nineties, when this instrument, with the richness of harmonics that make it sound like an entire orchestra, was isolated in comparison with the centrality of other string instruments. This is Terry Riley’s account of Scodanibbio, who performed years later an amazing version of In C
for ensemble of double basses: “From a distance I could hear the sounds of the French horns, trombones, strings and brass all fused together in a beautiful modal ensemble. (…) I was dumbfounded, as I entered the gallery, to discover Stefano all by himself playing his double bass”. The biography of this excellent instrumentalist and composer merely confirms Riley’s description: in Rome, in 1987, Scodanibbio, who has had scores written for him by Bussotti, Donatoni, Estrada, Ferneyhough, Frith, Globokar, Sciarrino, Xenakis, held a 4-hour non-stop marathon, playing 28 pieces for solo double-bass by 25 authors. Scodanibbio was a long-time collaborator of Giacinto Scelsi and Luigi Nono, who dedicated the arco mobile à la Stefano Scodanibbio
to him in the score of Prometeo
; he also collaborated with artists such as choreographer Virgilio Sieni, director Rodrigo Garcìa, and poet Edoardo Sanguineti.
The concert by Ludus Gravis, at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale on October 13th (6:00 pm), is also a tribute to Stefano Scodanibbio, who died prematurely last January, with three pieces from his ample production: Ottetto, in its world premiere performance, the solo Due pezzi brillanti and Alisei. With them, Bajo el volcano by Julio Estrada, the Mexican composer of Spanish origin, Scodanibbio’s partner in his latest musical adventures, in Mexico where he had chosen to live the last months of his life.
A Tribute to
The exercise of memory is not mere rhetoric, but a way of pulling together the threads of recent history, which is all too rarely represented in concert programmes, and to create a series of references with the authors of previous generations, multiplying meaning and giving new significance to the works in the programme.
After Pierre Boulez, the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to whom the inaugural concert is dedicated, the Festival pays tribute to the eightieth birthday of the composer and musical intellectual Giacomo Manzoni, the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2007. To Manzoni we dedicate the concert on October 12th at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale (6:00 pm) with the Risognanze ensemble by Tito Ceccherini, a keen interpreter of the music of our time, and of many operas and works of ancient music that have brought him to perform in the most prestigious theatres. Ceccherini builds his programme on the works of the Master, with the world premiere performance of Per questo, Alla Terra, Opus 75, Liriche di Elouard and Frase 2b, side by side with two new pieces by Giovanni Verrando and Alessandro Melchiorre, two composers intent on developing the research and integration of music and electronics.
For the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, the name John Cage is recurrent throughout the Festival with many pieces in the programme: to be performed by Simone Beneventi, the Mitteleuropa Orchestra, Irvine Arditti and Ciro Longobardi, they have also inspired the entire concert “Out of a Landscape”.
To the figure of Luciano Chailly, whose contribution was vital throughout 50 years of our cultural history, composer, conductor, director of some of the country’s major musical institutions (from the Teatro alla Scala to the Arena of Verona, from the Carlo Felice in Genoa to the Orchestra Rai in Turin), a committed teacher, we dedicate a concert on the tenth anniversary of his death, on October 10th in the Concert Hall of the Conservatory of Venice (3:00 PM). The performers will be the young musicians of the Conservatorio “G.Verdi” in Milan and the Conservatorio “B.Marcello” of Venice.
In the matter of celebrations, it might be interesting to note that In C, considered the manifesto of American minimalism, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, which the Festival will acknowledge with a joint performance by the Ex Novo Ensemble with Alter Ego.
The Voice and Musical Theatre
Voice, theatre and music are a terrain for experimentation with infinite possibilities and a powerful impact in terms of image and communication: the multiplicity of elements at work, gesture word dramaturgy sound image, can lead to a ‘concerto scenico’, a melodrama, a micro-opera, instrumental theatre, performance, art song, sprechoper. In this field, the Biennale has engaged in an annual commitment with Musik der Jahrhunderte of Stuttgart to produce new experimental chamber music pieces. This year, two thirty-year-olds, Francesca Verunelli, the winner of the Silver Lion at the 2009 Music Biennale, and Giovanni Bertelli will each, separately, stage their first musical theatre work on October 10th at the Teatro alle Tese (8:30 PM). Serial Sevens by Francesca Verunelli is inspired by the dark knots of memory, referring in the title to a real clinical test used to assess the degree of memory and concentration, but also to the 7 voices of the performers and the texts, all of them anonymous, taken from actual conversations between doctors and patients, which open spaces within an unspoken world; AMGD, which stands for “aesthetica more geometrico demonstrata”, and was also an anagram with which musicians of centuries past signed their works and which meant “ad maiorem dei gloriam”, is built with a recurring chain of actions, inspired by a statistic process known as the “Markov chain”, repeated five times, with different variations each time. Equally interesting will be the interpretation of the stage director, who for both works will be Finnish director Kristiina Helin, a long-time student of Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba.
The concert dedicated to the voice as an instrument, to its evolution and development, will be held on October 11th at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale (6:00 PM) with the unique ensemble Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, which has been a prestigious advocate of new music since 1984. In addition to their performance in the operas by Francesca Verunelli and Giovanni Bertelli, the singers of the ensemble from Stuttgart have planned a concert the highlight of which is Elliott Sharp, a heretic of the experimental scene in New York, with his latest piece Turing Test for 6 voices and clarinet in its Italian premiere performance. Also in the programme are brand new pieces by Bernhard Gander, the author of Deathtongue, Johannes Schollhorn with C - Vier Etüden, Yannis Kryakides and Oscar Bianchi.
From the avant-garde to the present day: moving towards the multiple
Founded in Brussels in 1991, the Quatuor Danel, famous for its interpretations of Shostakovich, with the recordings of his complete quartets, will be at the Festival on October 7th in the Sala delle Colonne (6:00 pm) with a line-up of great authors: Iannis Xenakis, Pascal Dusapin, Karen Tanaka, Anton Webern. A spectrum of contrasts will engulf the listener: from the powerful dynamism of Ergma by Xenakis, which revolutionizes the airy tradition of composition for quartets, and the harsh sonorities of Japanese composer Tanaka, with the Italian premiere performance of Metal Strings, to the incredible Five Movements for String Quartet op. 5 and the Six Bagatellesby Webern, “a novel in a sigh” (the definition is by Schoenburg), where the many musical gestures are concentrated in a limited timeframe; from the Quartet n. 4 by Dusapin, a student of Xenakis himself as well as Messiaen, but with his own way of understanding and developing music that has made him a “craftsman of sound”, with a focus on their perceptive outcome, to Tetras, with its diagrams translated into sounds, a paradigm of the sound visualization pursued by Xenakis.
Another quartet, this time a recent Italian chamber ensemble, generated from the musical school of Fiesole, the Quartetto Klimt will appear on stage on October 8th in the Sala delle Colonne at Cà Giustinian (6:00 PM) with Piano, violin, viola, cello by Morton Feldman, never performed before in Italy. This isFeldman’s last composition which, following a module preferred by the composer in recent years, allows the sounds to fluctuate in oceanic time (this piece lasts about one hour and 15 minutes). An abstract expressionist musician (which he also brings into the visual quality of his scores) who worked with Philip Guston, friends with artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Feldman is considered the author of “immobile” music, the result of imperceptible modifications of repeated melodic or harmonic fragments, which have often led him to be considered as a precursor of minimalism.
Among the orchestras in the Festival, the FVG Mitteleuropa Orchestra, which hasappeared in several recent editions, is scheduled for October 7th at the Teatro alle Tese (8:30 PM), right after the performance of One4 with Simone Beneventi on percussions. The highlight of the concert will be the Italian premiere performance of Fachwerk by Sofija Gubajdulina, one of the greatest composers to emerge from the former Soviet Union, with her fragmented style interspersed with ethnic sounds, such as the bayan, originally a Russian instrument, considered an advanced version of the classic accordion. The Concerto for piano and orchestraby Cage, another piece in the programme, is a perfect example of Cage’s indetermination: in addition to the composition technique based on the use of the I-Ching, the performer is also asked to agree on a tempo with the conductor (who at the premiere was a choreographer, Merce Cunningham) and on the overall length of the piece which includes the action of each musician, who are given 13 independent parts plus one for the pianist. “During the performance the pianist can play at any speed, any number of sheets, according to an equally indeterminate order, totally or partially as he wishes” (H.-K. Metzger). The concert will be completed by Initial by Bettina Skrzypcak, who rose to become the star of Polish music, achieving sudden fame throughout Europe when Arturo Tamayo conducted her Verba at the Music Biennale in Zagreb in 1987, and AOiR, a new piece by Franco-Argentine composer José Luis Campana, commissioned by the French government.
Another advocate of contemporary music, which over the course of thirty years has developed a characteristic sound quality, is the Ex Novo Ensemble,
which will be featured at the Festival in a double concert: the first is the result of an experiment in performing with another ensemble, Alter Ego, in the previously mentioned “New Russia/Old America”; the second, at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale on October 10th
(6:00 pm), presents an established author, Jean-Luc Hervé,
raised at the school of Emmanuel Nunes and Gèrard Grisey, in the Italian premiere performance of Replique
, along with some of the finest names in the new generation of thirty-year-olds: Italian composer Marco Momi,
the author of Iconica IV,
part of a cycle of six miniatures for ensemble and electronics, Danish composer Rune Glerup
, with Dust incapsulated 2,
an example of his musical objects,
and French composer Christophe Bertrand
, with his incandescent music, in the world premiere of Dall’inferno
, “a sort of race against time, in which everything is speed and transformation” (as Giorgio Manganelli wrote in the homonymous book). A composer directed by Boulez himself, who had commissioned him to write an orchestral work for the Lucerne Festival in 2005, Christophe Bertrand seems to have burned the candle at both ends during his brief lifetime (he died at the age of 29) leaving behind “a profoundly sincere opus, distressing in its expressivity, which leaves the listener deeply stirred” (Olivier Class). His name returns, along with that of Rune Glerup, in the concert by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
on October 12th
at the Teatro alle Tese (8:00 pm) with his last composition Okhtor
. Premiering in Italy, Okhtor
, which is painter Mark Rothko’s surname backwards, “requires an exasperated virtuoso performance with the purpose of creating maximum tension throughout the work, without leaving the slightest pause for breath for either the performers or the audience” (Olivier Class). Directed by Michel Tabachnik
, whose important career has led him to work with Berio, Stockhausen, Ligeti, Messiaen, and who was Xenakis’ favourite interpreter, the concert will present a classic such as La mer
by Claude Debussy
, the Italian premiere performance of Le cri de Mohim, Premier tableau de la Legende de Haish,
himself and the Concerto
by Rune Glerup
, another example of how the young Danish musician disrupts the classic concerto in its most traditional form from the inside, with astonishing results for a young composer just barely over the age of twenty. Finally Enzo Porta and Silvia Tarozzi
, in a violin duo on October 7th
at the Fondazione Cini
(Sala degli Arazzi, 11:00 am), will perform Dialodia
and Pièce pour Ivry
by Bruno Maderna
, “Hay que caminar” sonando
by Luigi Nono
, along with the new pieces by Fabrizio Fanticini
and Pascale Criton
, who wrote Circle Process
for Silvia Tarozzi, a work that explores sound and gesture on a violin tuned microtonally to a sixteenth of a tone.