Author Topic: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)  (Read 22807 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« on: January 30, 2008, 01:18:50 PM »
Tomorrow night I'm hearing Berio's Sinfonia, with Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, with Synergy Vocals from London (who have performed with Steve Reich and others).  I'm excited, since I've only heard the piece live once before, many years ago.  It's hard to believe it isn't performed more often.

I credit the original recording of Sinfonia (below) with jump-starting my interest in contemporary music.  From the first hearing (around age 14 or so) I was fascinated with the piece, and PS, heard it many years before I heard Mahler's Second Symphony (the basis for Berio's middle movement).  At the moment, my favorite recording is Chailly's, but I haven't yet heard the more recent Eötvös version.

Other Berio fans, favorite works?

--Bruce
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gomro

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 05:11:05 PM »
Tomorrow night I'm hearing Berio's Sinfonia, with Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, with Synergy Vocals from London (who have performed with Steve Reich and others).  I'm excited, since I've only heard the piece live once before, many years ago.  It's hard to believe it isn't performed more often.

I credit the original recording of Sinfonia (below) with jump-starting my interest in contemporary music.  From the first hearing (around age 14 or so) I was fascinated with the piece, and PS, heard it many years before I heard Mahler's Second Symphony (the basis for Berio's middle movement).  At the moment, my favorite recording is Chailly's, but I haven't yet heard the more recent Eötvös version.

Other Berio fans, favorite works?

--Bruce

First thing of any substance I ever heard from Berio was his Concerto for two pianos, on a RCA record that has never been released on CD. It remains a favorite, regardless. Sinfonia is very fine, likewise Coro. I haven't heard enough of the Chemins or Sequenza series to make an overall call, but what I have heard was of high quality. A piece called Points On the Curve To Find, a sort of mini-piano-concerto, seems to bring a Reich-ian element into Berio's style, and it works, too!

paulb

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 05:25:21 PM »
Heard a   you tube clip.
No

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2008, 07:13:18 AM »
Other Berio fans, favorite works?
--Bruce

I'm not sure I'd call myself a fan. Some works I really love; others leave me cold. I've been listening to Berio for about 30 years. I don't know which grabbed me first, the Folk Songs or the Sinfonia. I do know this was one of my first Berio purchases, circa 1978:



It's a two LP box. I may not be a confirmed Berio fan but I'm definitely a confirmed Berberian fan. Being a Mahlerite my favorite Berio work is, of course, Sinfonia. I own Boulez and Chailly's recordings.

A bit of trivia from a Deadhead. Phil Lesh, the Gateful Dead's amazing bass player, was a student of Berio's at Mills College in the mid-60s. Berio was so impressed with Lesh's skill as a composer, he invited him to be his apprentice in Italy. Lesh met Jerry Garcia shortly thereafter and he chose a different musical course...to the profound gratitude of Dead fans all over the world  ;D  We'll never know what the classical world lost but perhaps we hear a taste of what might have been during the Lesh-inspired second set Space segments during Dead shows.

Sarge
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 08:51:59 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

MN Dave

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2008, 07:15:11 AM »
A bit of trivia from a Deadhead. Phil Lesh, the Dead's amazing bass player, was a student of Berio at Mills College in the mid-60s. Berio was so impressed with Lesh's skill as a composer, he invited him to be his apprentice in Italy. Lesh met Jerry Garcia shortly thereafter and he chose a different musical course...to the profound gratitude of Dead fans all over the world  ;D  We'll never know what the classical world lost but perhaps we hear what could have been during the Lesh inspired second set Space segments during Dead shows.

Well, a lot more people are hearing his music anyway.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2008, 07:16:32 AM »
Well, a lot more people are hearing his music anyway.

 ;D :D ;D  very true, Dave.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2008, 07:31:33 AM »
A bit of trivia from a Deadhead. Phil Lesh, the Dead's amazing bass player, was a student of Berio at Mills College in the mid-60s. Berio was so impressed with Lesh's skill as a composer, he invited him to be his apprentice in Italy. Lesh met Jerry Garcia shortly thereafter and he chose a different musical course...to the profound gratitude of Dead fans all over the world  ;D  We'll never know what the classical world lost but perhaps we hear what could have been during the Lesh-inspired second set Space segments during Dead shows.

Sarge

Wow, thanks for that awesome scan of the Berberian LP, which brought back some very nice memories.  I haven't seen that in probably 20 years or more!   :o 

And love the Phil Lesh story, which I hadn't heard before.  I'm not the hugest Dead fan  ;D but now it makes me want to hear them again.

--Bruce
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~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2008, 07:47:53 AM »
Wow, thanks for that awesome scan of the Berberian LP, which brought back some very nice memories.  I haven't seen that in probably 20 years or more!   :o 

Glad you liked, and appreciate, the scan, Bruce. Scanning LPs can be a pain in the butt because they are larger than the scanner bed. It requires two, sometimes three scans which then have to be joined, color-matched, etc, in Photoshop. But I love these old LPs; it's a labor of love really.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2008, 07:51:06 AM »
Glad you liked, and appreciate, the scan, Bruce. Scanning LPs can be a pain in the butt because they are larger than the scanner bed. It requires two, sometimes three scans which then have to be joined, color-matched, etc, in Photoshop. But I love these old LPs; it's a labor of love really.

Sarge

Well, a huge "bravo" for that one, which is crystal clear.  (You might have a small home business waiting in the wings.)  Very professionally done.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline MDL

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2008, 09:52:52 AM »
Tomorrow night I'm hearing Berio's Sinfonia, with Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, with Synergy Vocals from London (who have performed with Steve Reich and others).  I'm excited, since I've only heard the piece live once before, many years ago.  It's hard to believe it isn't performed more often.

I credit the original recording of Sinfonia (below) with jump-starting my interest in contemporary music.  From the first hearing (around age 14 or so) I was fascinated with the piece, and PS, heard it many years before I heard Mahler's Second Symphony (the basis for Berio's middle movement).  At the moment, my favorite recording is Chailly's, but I haven't yet heard the more recent Eötvös version.

Other Berio fans, favorite works?

--Bruce

The Eötvös version of Sinfonia is very good, and very well recorded. I've got all the other recordings (the Berio on a crappy old cassette, Boulez and Chailly on CD) apart from the Bychkov, which received mediocre reviews when it was released, so I didn't bother with it, although now I regret not getting it while I could. Has anyone heard the Bychkov? I have to admit that I've never really taken to the fifth movement. Perhaps it's because I got to know the work via Berio's four-movement recording. The fifth seems like a redundant attempt at tying up loose ends that are better left untied.

I am desperate for RCA to release on CD their recordings of Nones and, above all, the jaw-droppingly beautiful Alleluja II. I've heard Laborintus II twice in the flesh and although I've got a recentish recording, no performance comes close to matching the original recording conducted by Berio himself. I really should get around to buying Berio's recording of Coro (another one I have on crappy old tape), because I don't think the two CD recordings I have are as good.

I occasionally dig out Maazel's recording of Un Re In Ascolto, but it's never really grabbed me. I don't know why. The muddy recording doesn't help.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 03:31:39 AM by MDL »

Offline MDL

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2008, 10:06:51 AM »
Forgot to mention my recordings of Passagio, Visage, Epifanie and the DG Sequenzas. My other half is out tonight, so I'll have to give Passagio another whirl. I haven't played that for years.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2008, 10:14:58 AM »
Forgot to mention my recordings of Passagio, Visage, Epifanie and the DG Sequenzas. My other half is out tonight, so I'll have to give Passagio another whirl. I haven't played that for years.

I don't think I've heard Passagio (nor the Alleluja II) and would be eager to hear your impressions of both.  I'd also be interested to know more about your live experiences with Laborintus II.  (I think I have that one with Berio on LP, but haven't listened to it in a very long time.)  Quite a Berio listening history, there!

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline some guy

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2008, 12:36:36 PM »
I cut my teeth on Thema (Omaggio a Joyce). Visage was too hard.

Now I can just barely recapture what it was about Visage that was so disturbing. Thema and Visage both still seem very fine to me.

Berio (and Lutoslawski and Ligeti) all used to visit L.A. back in the day. A lot.

I don't think I missed any of those concerts. There were some very interesting symphony concerts in the seventies and eighties there.

Offline MDL

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2008, 03:13:37 AM »
I don't think I've heard Passagio (nor the Alleluja II) and would be eager to hear your impressions of both.  I'd also be interested to know more about your live experiences with Laborintus II.  (I think I have that one with Berio on LP, but haven't listened to it in a very long time.)  Quite a Berio listening history, there!

--Bruce

Alleluja II is a fantastic piece for five orchestral groups spread around the audience, a bit like Stockhausen's Gruppen, but nowhere near as dense or aggressive. Indeed, much of the piece is lyrical, with lots of flute solos and delicate chamber writing, although there are a few spectacular swirling climaxes with ricocheting trumpets and crashing percussion. But even in its densest passages, there's a real feeling of light, space and colour. It's extraordinarily beautiful, and it's such a shame that it's hardly ever performed these days. This piece is in desperate need of a CD release.

Laborintus II is great live. It's exciting to see the vocalists get stuck into it when Berio lets rip. The only problem, one that applies to both live performances I've attended, is that the electronic interlude is never loud enough and lacks impact.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2008, 07:17:38 AM »
Alleluja II is a fantastic piece for five orchestral groups spread around the audience, a bit like Stockhausen's Gruppen, but nowhere near as dense or aggressive. Indeed, much of the piece is lyrical, with lots of flute solos and delicate chamber writing, although there are a few spectacular swirling climaxes with ricocheting trumpets and crashing percussion. But even in its densest passages, there's a real feeling of light, space and colour. It's extraordinarily beautiful, and it's such a shame that it's hardly ever performed these days. This piece is in desperate need of a CD release.

Laborintus II is great live. It's exciting to see the vocalists get stuck into it when Berio lets rip. The only problem, one that applies to both live performances I've attended, is that the electronic interlude is never loud enough and lacks impact.

Thanks much for these comments!  Sounds like I need to keep a lookout for a performance of both of these.  Just did a search of the New York Times archive to see if perhaps a performance of either had occurred here.  There was just one citation for Alleluja II, done by Peter Eötvös in 1996 at the Holland Festival, and Laborintus II actually appeared at Avery Fisher Hall in 1986, as part of the New York Philharmonic's Horizons 86 Festival.

--Bruce
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2008, 09:11:27 AM »
Tomorrow night I'm hearing Berio's Sinfonia, with Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, with Synergy Vocals from London (who have performed with Steve Reich and others).  I'm excited, since I've only heard the piece live once before, many years ago.  It's hard to believe it isn't performed more often.

So the Berio Sinfonia was excellent.  If I weren't booked tomorrow night I'd go again.  Maazel seems to thrive on music that is not that familiar to him, and in this case (he used a score) it seemed to keep him on his toes, with very little taken for granted.

The vocal group, Synergy Vocals, was superb.  Before the piece began, composer Steven Stucky did a short demo with them, in which they sang some of the vocal parts without the orchestral fabric.  Their very first chord (from the first movement) was pretty impressive, not to mention just flat-out gorgeous. 

More in a "proper" review later, but it was a great experience.  PS, the work hadn't been done here since 1988, when Boulez did it, also with the Philharmonic.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline MDL

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2008, 10:29:05 AM »
PS, the work hadn't been done here since 1988, when Boulez did it, also with the Philharmonic.

--Bruce

That's terrible! I've caught it at least twice in London over the past decade or so, and I missed last year's Prom performance because the main work after the interval was some Rossini bore.  ::) Apologies to Rossini fans for the gratuitous insult. I wasn't aware that New York was so ill-served when it came to modern music. You'll have to emigrate!

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2008, 11:05:12 AM »
That's terrible! I've caught it at least twice in London over the past decade or so, and I missed last year's Prom performance because the main work after the interval was some Rossini bore.  ::) Apologies to Rossini fans for the gratuitous insult. I wasn't aware that New York was so ill-served when it came to modern music. You'll have to emigrate!

 ;D  (Sorry, I got a laugh, too, from "Rossini bore"--and offer my apologies as well.)

Well, NYC is generally over-served for modern music.  But you'd think that since Sinfonia was written for the Philharmonic, they'd do it more often.  PS, I checked The New York Times, and Sinfonia has been done by others, more than I recalled: in 1994 by Semyon Bychkov and the Orchestre de Paris, 1998 by Robert Spano and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and 1999 with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra.

--Bruce
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2008, 01:11:48 PM »
I will be hearing Quatre dédicaces with CSO/Boulez tomorrow. Will report.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 07:16:31 PM by O Mensch »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2008, 01:30:46 PM »
I will be hearing Quatre dédicaces with CSO/Boulez tomorrow. Will report.

Cool, he's bringing that to Carnegie in a few weeks, so I'll be hearing it, too.  You probably saw Marc Geelhoed's write-up:

http://deceptivelysimple.typepad.com/simple/2008/02/roadtrip-by-pla.html

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY