La Taberna Maderna

Started by snyprrr, February 23, 2010, 08:17:57 PM

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Cross-posted from the WAYL2N thread:

Quote from: ritter on December 01, 2023, 12:51:41 PMSome Bruno Maderna tonight...

Arturo Tamayo's 5 CD traversal of Maderna's orchestral output with the Frankfurt RSO is an extraordinary tribute to this great composer. This specific CD has two lesser-known early works from the 1950s, while the later works would be incorporated in the Hyperion "constellation ".

Wonderful music!

What led me to listen to this CD is the arrival today of this book, just published in Italy:

The subtitle is "A Portrait in Many Voices". Valerio Tura has collected short tributes to Maderna by other composers, instrumental soloists, vocalists, etc.


Cross-posted from the WAYL2N thread:

I tried to reconstruct what could (more or less) have been the Hyperion - Orfeo dolente show that Bruno Maderna gave in Bologna in 1968 (in a staging by Virginio Puecher).

Maderna's Hyperion is a paradigmatic work-in-progress, the composer having worked on it from 1964 to around 1970. Not only the components changed from one version to the other, but also the individual movements suffered significant alterations. Even the "type" of work changed: initially, it was labelled "lirica in forma de spettacolo", than it had other staged versions (combined with "external" material —Hyperion en het Gewald in Brussels in 1968, the  superposition with Domenico Belli's Orfeo dolente later that year), and finally versions titled Suite aus der Oper Hyperion (i.e., with no staging contemplated).

The 1968 version alternated the 5 intermezzi of Domenico Belli's Orfeo dolente, one of the first surviving examples of operatic music (the intermezzi were performed between the acts of Torquato Tasso's play Aminta) with music by Maderna. Maderna arranged Belli's music for modern orchestra, but AFAIK there is no recording of that arrangement.

As for the music by Maderna, Giordano Ferrari (in his essay Hyperion, les chemins du poète) mentions that the Bologna version included two electronic pieces (Le Rire from 1960, and Dimensioni II from 1962 —also known as Invenzione su una voce, and based on Cathy Berberian's voice), and the two pieces that had constituted the very first version of Hyperion in 1964 and would remain central to most versions of the work. These are the purely orchestral Dimensioni III and Aria for soprano and orchestra (both works have a prominent line for solo flute or piccolo, an instrument that also plays a dramatic role in the whole work).

What I could not find anywhere is in what order the different components of this version were performed (although Tiziano Popoli, in his essay on Le Rire, says that this was placed at or near the beginning of the evening).

Since the Belli intermezzi are five, and the original Maderna works only four, I decided to start with the first intermezzo, and finish with Aria (which was the final piece of the original version of Hyperion, and seems like a natural conclusion to the show). The order, then, is:

  • Intermezzo 1 from Orfeo dolente
  • Le Rire
  • Intermezzo 2
  • Dimensione III
  • Intermezzo 3
  • Dimensione II (Invenzione su una voce)
  • Intermezzo 4 and 5
  • Aria

I played the original Maderna works in the order that are listed by Ferrari in his essay.

Well, and what does all this add up too? IMHO, a very interesting combination. The juxtaposition of early 17th century Florentine proto-operatic music with late 20th century serial and electronic pieces for a plotless "opera" is quite fascinating. The first three of Belli's intermezzi are very slow and plangent, and alternate well with the electronic Le Rire (which, truth be said, is rather unattractive to me) and the dramatic orchestral Dimensioni III. The last two intermezzi from Orfeo dolente are livelier in tone, and Aria (on Maderna at the top of his game IMHO) brings everything to a climactic close.

I didn't know Domenico Belli's music, and was very impressed by it. And it blends very well with Maderna's ultra-modern idiom (unsurprisingly so, as Maderna also displayed the greatest love for "ancient" music).

A speculative reconstruction of an event that seems not to have been that well documented, but a very fulfilling listening experience.

The recordings I used in this experiment are:

For Belli's Orfeo dolente:

For the electronic pieces by Maderna:

For Dimensioni III and Aria:


This (relatively) recent publication by the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle is worth mentioning here:

The Foundation's blurb:

"Utopia, Innovation, Tradition: Bruno Maderna's Cosmos is the first collection of essays in English dedicated to one of the most multifaceted and interesting musical personalities of the 20th century: Bruno Maderna (1920–1973), a main protagonist in the development of new music after World War II.

The 15 essays cover the most important aspects of Bruno Maderna's peculiar compositional approach. Thanks to innovative methodological perspectives based mainly on the study of archival materials, they arrive at new and often completely unexpected interpretations. The book also contains a newly revised chronology of Maderna's own works and transcriptions of the works of others."

The contents of the 467 page tome can be found here.

I've just ordered my copy (it was being offered at a discounted price on