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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Music EN (new)


Sinopoli Chamber Orchestra

Sunday 27 September, 6 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
Clementi / Mancuso / Feldman / Xenakis / Stravinsky
- Aldo Clementi Concertino for flute, clarinet, piano, two violins, viola and cello (1999, 10')
- Giovanni Mancuso July 19th or How to establish a second Republic founded on the blood of a State Massacre for solo voice, saxophone, piano, minimoog, electronium and ensemble (2009, 25’) world premiere (commissioned by La Biennale di Venezia), text by Salvatore Borsellino Lampi nel buio, translation by Christina Pacella
- Morton Feldman The Viola in My Life 1 for viola and 5 instruments (1970, 9’)
- Iannis Xenakis Plekto for ensemble (1993, 14')
- Igor Stravinskij Berceuse du chat for voice and pianoforte (1915, 5')
bass, baritone Romain Bischoff
saxophone Pietro Tonolo
piano, minimoog, electronium Giovanni Mancuso
conductor Pietro Mianiti
Sinopoli Chamber Orchestra di Taormina Arte
The young chamber orchestra – founded in 2005 for the first Festival of Taormina Sinopoli, with which it collaborates on a permanent basis – is formed of the professors and students of the Conservatorio Arcangelo Corelli di Messina, and demonstrates the attention paid to the teaching and performance of the contemporary repertoire on an ongoing basis.
The concert of the Sinopoli Chamber Orchestra plays compositions from the historic 20th-century repertoire, some of them rarely performed, such as Plekto by Xenakis or Berceuse du chat by Stravinsky, and others instead more popular, such as The Viola in My Life 1 byMorton Feldman; alongside these pieces, Concertino by Aldo Clementi, a protagonist on the Italian and international avant-garde scene of the 1950s, and July 19th or how to establish a second Republic founded on the blood of a State Massacre by the Venetian composer, Giovanni Mancuso, dedicated to the tragic story of Judge Borsellino.
The concert opens witha fine example of writing for canons cultivated by Clementi (1925), Concertino, composed and performed in world premiere the same year, 1999, at the Festival of Asiago. Commissioned by the Friends of music and dedicated to the town of Asiago, this piece for flute, clarinet, piano, two violins, viola and cello, is laconically defined by Clementi himself as a “canon for eight voices on its own diatonic theme”.
Clementi is followed by the 39-year-old Giovanni Mancuso (1970), author of a piece of “civil theater” inspired by a text by Salvatore Borsellino, Lampi nel buio, which raises some disturbing questions about the last moments in the life of his brother, magistrate Paolo Borsellino, killed in Via D'Amelio on 19 July 1992 along with five members of his escort. “The music that embodies and explodes between the folds of the text by Salvatore Borsellino (in the fine English translation by Christina Pacella)”, writes John Mancuso, “aims to be a means to spread the unbearable weight this date carries with it: a series of ‘flashes’, just as they appear in the text, will be stages in a furious progress supported by the taut and hallucinated solo voice chased by the images, from the nightmares and faces of that July 19 of seventeen years ago”.
Between 1970 and 1971, Morton Feldman (1926-1987) composed a cycle of pieces, The Viola in My Life, dedicated to violist Karen Phillips and in which the viola interacts with instrumental combinations that are every time different, of greater and lesser dimensions: with five instruments, with six, with piano and orchestra. The Viola in My Life 1 is also one of the few pieces in which Feldman goes back to adopting a conventional notation for the heights and tempos: “I needed an exact temporal proportion to emphasise the gradual and light crescendo characteristic of all the subtle sounds the viola makes, and this is the aspect that determined the rhythmic sequence of events”. A musician of abstract expressionism, collaborator of Philip Guston and friend of many artists – from Jackson Pollock to Mark Rothko – Feldman says: “My intention was to think of melody and melodic fragments in something like the way Robert Rauschenberg uses photography in his painting, and superimpose this reflection on the world of static sounds, which are most characteristic of my music” .
Feldman is followed by another master of the last century, Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), one of the few to show a way forward free of the European musical trends of his time and summarised in the combination between music and mathematics. A completely anti-sentimentalist process of formalisation – as wrote a famous admirer, Milan Kundera, who defined him a “prophet of insensibility” – but who also produced music with an extraordinary vitality and a dramatic power in which seem to agitate the natural forces that animate and overturn the world. An architect by training (he worked with Le Corbusier) and mathematician, Xenakis was also passionate about philosophy, the ancient Greek classics, atomic physics, electronics, all studies that converge in his work as composer. By Xenakis, the Sinopoli Chamber Orchestra has chosen one of the lesser known pieces, from his last period: Plekto. The title refers to the Greek verb “plek” (to weave) and in particular alludes to the weaving of different textures in a game of variations, an example of the subtle combinatorial art of Xenakis.
An example Igor Stravinsky’s (1882-1971) constant sensitivity for the Russian folk heritage, rooted in the soul of a people and representing the purest spiritual tradition, Berceuse du Chat concludes the concert of the Sinopoli Chamber Orchestra. Like Pribautki, Renard, Trois histoires pour enfants, Four Russian Peasant Songs, all works composed between 1914 and 1917, Berceuse du Chat –presented in the version for voice and piano– shows how Stravinsky could transform the popular material from which he borrowed in original manner.