Author Topic: Lo Spazio Sciarrino  (Read 15972 times)

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Offline T. D.

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Re: Lo Spazio Sciarrino
« Reply #60 on: August 05, 2020, 04:56:33 AM »
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Cosa Resta is from 2006, a setting for string quartet and voice of someone’s post mortem household inventory. It goes absolutely cosmic half way through! Love it.

Thanks, great "concept" and I enjoyed it. I'm more fond of Sciarrino's vocal music than some of the contributors on p. 1 of this thread. Not springing for purchase...especially in the quieter passages I haven't changed my opinion (posted June 9) that

... eventually (say, after the Esplorazione del bianco release), I began finding Sciarrino's palette of extended techniques... and use of silences somewhat predictable...

But Cosa Resta motivates me to do some more listening. Interesting to hear Irvine Arditti's son Jake, the countertenor!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 04:58:04 AM by T. D. »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Lo Spazio Sciarrino
« Reply #61 on: August 05, 2020, 05:41:54 AM »
Except that what it does in the middle there was a surprise, so though I understand where you’re coming from when you say he’s predictable, he isn’t always so.

Very much enjoying the 12 Madrigals at the moment. Still not managed to give the 9th quartet much attention - he seems to make the quartet instruments speak.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 05:44:34 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline T. D.

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Re: Lo Spazio Sciarrino
« Reply #62 on: August 05, 2020, 06:42:45 AM »
Except that what it does in the middle there was a surprise, so though I understand where you’re coming from when you say he’s predictable, he isn’t always so...

Yes, Sciarrino is a bit frustrating for me. There are pieces and passages I deeply enjoy, but also many instances where (apologies for snark) I get the impression "...OK, cue a cue the cricket-like string riff...OK, now another cue the skittering woodwind key clicks...".

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Lo Spazio Sciarrino
« Reply #63 on: September 08, 2020, 02:22:32 AM »

From the above recording

THE SEA, THE SOUND, THE MIRROR Notes on Salvatore Sciarrino's 12 Madrigal!

In addition to numerous works for the stage, Salvatore Sciarrino has written a number of vocal works for concert performance. Five of these two dozen or so pieces feature a chorus, but most of them are for solo voice and instruments. The transparent drawing of the vocal lines is evidently more in keeping with ideal of expression than dense polyphony or even the compact choral tableau. Writing in a form of polyphony reduced to the chamber music dimensions of an ensemble of soloists did once inspire him to write a remarkable composi-tion: L'alibi della parola (The alibi of the word) for four voices a cappella. It was premiered in Witten in 1994 as part of a concert by the Hilliard Ensemble whose theme was "Madrigals"; the idea behind the concert program was to present various aspects of this vocal tradition. At that time, Sciarrino avoided the term madrigal as a label for his composition, but in the selection and treatment of his texts his work was close to the refined, mannerist tendencies of this vocal genre in the period around i600. The texts on which L'alibi della parola was based are extremely heterogeneous: two visual poems by the Brazilian writer Augusto de Campos, a fragment by Petrarch, and inscriptions from ancient vases. The complex relationship of words and sounds here is far removed from a reproductive function of a psychological or any other realistic manner. By dispensing with an affective figural vocabulary, the four brief pieces clearly maintain a distance from the madrigal tradition, on the one hand, while, on the other hand, coming close to it in terms of its artificial gesture. This ambivalence is characteristic of Sciarrino, who likes to play his game of vexation with similarities and asymmetries, with paradoxes and a web of meanings that is subtle held in suspension.

This sort of diversity of perspectives is also revealed in his 12 Madrigali, com-posed in 2007 for four male and three to four female voices (the alto and mezzo-soprano parts can be sung by a single performer). Despite his unambiguous title, Sciarrino refers to the tradition of the genre only very freely here. Once again, in addition to the external feature of its a cappella ensemble, it is prima-rily the extravagant connection to the word that recalls the mannerist tenden-cies of the classical madrigal. A historicizing approach to the tradition - in the sense of a revival of affective language or even of the neomadrigalismo of the first half of the 20th century - is far from Sciarrino's intention. As we will show, that certainly does not mean that he fails to unfold a broad spectrum of his own expressive values or "figures" in these pieces.

Sounds as Signals

For the texts, Sciarrino chose six haiku by the Japanese writer Matsuo Bashi) (1644-94). The three-line poems, which Sciarrino translated into Italian him-self, revolve around themes from nature: the sea, islands, waves, rocks, crickets, larks. The organ of perception in which these elemental statements find their echo is sound itself. The meditative text and the sparse, clear sign language of the music fuse into a new unity. The result is a highly objectified form of depiction from which the composer largely pulls back with his subjective emotions and observes the interplay of text and music as if from a distance. What the composer has said of his relationship to the material in general is particularly true of his 12 Madrigali: "In Western culture, artistic language is supposed to express the artist's subjectivity. He says: 'This is what I feel, and I pass these feelings on to you. But I see it differently. I do not say: `These are my sounds: but rather: 'These are sounds 1 find exciting. And you, what happens with you?' My sounds are not simply sounds but rather signals. They are signals of com-munication between people; they refer to the environment, to human activity, to day and even more to night - to reality in general"

This was not the first time that Sciarrino worked with the concentrated imag-istic language of Japanese haiku. His early vocal compositions up to his first work for the stage, Amore e Psiche (1971-72), were nearly all haiku settings - as if he were already looking for models against which his later reductive musical idiom could be measured. Texts by Matsuo BashO are the basis for, among other works, the three-part composition Aka Aka to for soprano and 12 instruments, which was premiered in Palermo in 1968 under the direction of Gianpiero Taverna (with the soloist Michiko Hirayama, who also made a name for herself as a Scelsi interpreter).

A New Ecology of Sound

Salvatore Sciarrino prefaced the score of 12 Madrigali with an extensive com-mentary in which he did not so much discuss the specific construction of the pieces as fundamental aspects of his idiom of vocal music, which, as he wrote, achieved a new quality in these pieces. This precise explanation of this compo-sitional means represents a high degree of artistic self-reflection; many of his statements have the character of an artistic manifesto. It is worth citing several of its core ideas here:

In an act of radical thinking, he traced the problems of vocal composition back to its most elementary premises. Song, this "mysterious and powerful unity of sound and word," does not, in his view, result simply from "compos-ing for voice:' First, it is necessary to "purify thinking and recapture from the intervals the transparency that is filled up by mountains of songs, by music from the whole world - by all these gigantic garbage dumps amid which we live:' And he called for a new ecology of sound, born of a new consciousness: "ecology of sound certainly means a return to silence but also and especially the regaining of a form of expression without emotional coldness and without rhetoric. When the voice is entrusted to silence, all that remains is the mouth, the oral cavity and saliva. The opening lips, boundary to a dark void, to thirst and to hunger:'

For Sciarrino, the focus of musical communication is the listener. To describe the relationship between music and the listener he fell back on a saying from the Talmud: "If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who? - That is what my music says to anyone listening to it. It calls for an encounter and invites the listeners: Open your minds, sharpen your consciousness. Or simply: Follow me! I lead listeners into my music in order to attract their attention with the tiniest of events."

The Unfaithful Mirror

The large-scale form of 12 Madrigali is determined by the fact that each of the six haiku is set twice. This results in six related pairs, yet they are not placed together but instead grouped into a series of two times six pieces. The second half relates to the first like an "unfaithful mirror" ("a specchio infedele"), in two respects: First, the second series of six is not the retrograde of the first but its linear repetition; second, the individual madrigals are by no means detailed reflections of one another; the second versions are retellings that offer the same story in a different way and present it again, sometimes using differ-ent means.

Sciarrino took up again the procedure of his early haiku settings Aka, Aka to I, II, 111, which were also multiple versions - in that case three - of the same idea. "Like Sehnsucht, composed four times: he said, with reference to Beethoven, who set Goethe's Lied der Mignon four times in completely different ways. This procedure is an interesting adaptation of the idea of a variation. The traditional variation form is structured hierarchically; the each part is merely a "variation"
of the basic idea and is directly dependent on it. In Sciarrino's - and Beethoven's -procedure of multiple variants, by contrast, there is no central theme as a point of reference. 'Ihey stand side by side as coequals, and hence are compiled para-tactically (coordinating) and not hypotactically (subordinating).

Brief Overview of the Individual Madrigals

What these variations look like can be briefly described using the example of Madrigals Nos. i and 7. The text of both is: "Quante isole! / In frantumi / lo specchio del mare" (How many islands! / Broken / the mirror of the sea). Even their enigmatic tempo indications make them an asymmetrical pair: "Tempo d'altro spazio" (Tempo of the other space) for No. i and "Tempo d'altro mare" (Tempo of the other sea) for No. 7; quite incidentally, this also evokes associa-tion with Luigi Nono's utopian "altri spazi" (other spaces). In the first madrigal, the exclamation "Quante isole!" is repeated up to about the middle of the piece several times with very long note values by the three female voices, in a unison that comes apart briefly at just a few points. At first the male voices repeat these words only as very brief, fragmentary interjections. In Madrigal No. 7, the male and female voices exchange roles in a kind of double counterpoint: the long held notes of "Quante isole" are sung by bass, baritone, and tenor, and the inter-jections come from the women. Now, however, the interjections are no longer brief and disconnected but also long held notes: an unfaithful mirror.

A clear asymmetry can also be observed by comparing the two halves of the madrigals. On the text "in franturni lo specchio del mare: the lines get all curly, and finally the calm surface breaks down into small motivic fragments. In Madrigal No. i, this process is initiated by the male voices and gets going only gradually. In Madrigal No. 7, it is initiated by the female voices, which is in keeping with the idea of symmetry, but it begins much earlier and then quickly leads to an excitement that seizes all the voices. This animated expres-sion now dominates the sound image for long stretches; the polarity of calm and excitement is not longer depicted in temporal sequence as in No. i but rather simultaneously. That means that whereas in Madrigal No. i there is still an approximate balance between the first and second halves, in No. 7 the focus shifts to the second half, in which the antitheses are dramatically emphasized. Characteristically for the majority of these pieces, this conflict occurs in very quiet registers, with only the occasional, sudden forte accent intervening. Similar forms of untrue reflection can be observed in the other pairs of madri-gals as well. For example, in Nos. 2 and 8, "Ecco mormorar l'onde / e ritmo / di vento profumato" (Here the waves' murmur / is rhythm / of perfumed wind): The second madrigal does indeed begin quietly murmuring, with a sequence of solos circling around the central note of E. The eighth, by contrast, begins with a compact, repeated cry of all the voices: "Ecco!" And whereas in the first of these two madrigals lines 2 and 3 are barely set at all, and the word "ritmo" is broken down into onomatopoetic sequences of accents produced by the singers' hands, in the second madrigal these lines provide the impetus for an emphatic soprano solo of considerable length.

Numbers three and nine (Chirping of the crickets) are distinct from the other pieces in that they correspond most to a polyphonic type of writing. The other pieces are dominated by a variously refracted and frayed monody, rhythmic chords, complexly layered small motifs, and hocketlike shapes. In these two numbers, however, Sciarrino uses the already musical sequence of syllables of "Ah, la cicala" to produce a polyphonic web of lines in which the voices enter in stretto and fill out a pitch space of as much as three octaves. The rhythmi-cally complex set of tiny motifs in both madrigals is once again worked out in completely different ways.

Madrigals Nos. 4 and so are fundamentally different in tempo. The image of the red autumn sun losing its power is evoked once "with momentum" and once "very slowly" In addition to this "lentissimo," the writing of No. s o becomes increasingly thin, so that at the end all that is heard are brief solos on very long downward glissandi in the deep voices.

The theme of Madrigals Nos. 5 and is is the singing of larks. In No. 5 ("high-flying") the text, broken down into vocalises, is transformed into a series of brief melodic fragments. In No. is ("Drops of words"), precisely the opposite occurs: the text is chanted in widely separated, staccatolike chords that are connected by a single held voice. Only toward the end does it become an onomatopoeti-cally trilling melody in the soprano part.

The most prominent feature of Madrigals Nos. 6 and 12 is the ostinato rhythms that lend them a strong character and create an exciting contrast with the me-lodic, rhythmically free parts. In Madrigal No. 12, which concludes the cycle, there is an exchange of identities that is very much in the spirit of Bashes Zen poetry: The "sea of crickets" articulated in endless ostinatos of sixteenth notes ossifies into a rocklike structure, while at the end, on the words "bevono le rocce" (the rocks drink), the soprano swings into the heights with a sensitive melodic line: the difference between organic and inorganic matter blurs.

Max Nyffeler
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Lo Spazio Sciarrino
« Reply #64 on: September 08, 2020, 02:25:16 AM »
And the text of the madrigals in  Italian

Quante isole!
In frantumi
 lo specchio del mare

Ecco mormorar l'onde
 è ritmo
di vento profumato

La cicala!
 Assorda nella voce
un'aura di campane

Rosso, così rosso
il sole fugge
 vento d'autunno

O lodola
non basta al canto
 un lungo giorno

Sole alto
mare di cicale
bevono le rocce

And now in English

12 :Madrigals
How many islands!
the mirror of the sea !

This murmur of waves
of the scented wind

The cicada!
Deafening in sound
an aura of bells

Red, so red
the sun takes flight
autumn wind

Oh skylark
the song is not done
 in a long day

Empyrean sun
sea of cicadas
the rocks are drinking
« Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 02:28:39 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen