Salvatore Sciarrino Review

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lennygoran
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Salvatore Sciarrino Review

Post by lennygoran » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:16 am

The article had a number of musical clips of another work of this composer I never heard of but after listening to some of those clips I realized that this was a concert I probably wouldn't have appreciated. What made me even go to the article was one of the photos which interested me but that was when another of his works was done at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2001. Regards, Len

Music|Review: Skittering, Creeping Music That Had Me Seeing Things

By ZACHARY WOOLFEAPRIL 7, 2017


The Casa Italiana at Columbia University, designed in the 1920s by McKim, Mead & White, has a small, tastefully opulent concert hall inspired by Renaissance Rome. Sitting there just after nightfall on Wednesday for ensemble mise-en’s program of music by the contemporary Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino, my eyes at one point drifted from the players to the window.

I blinked. I could have sworn I saw, across Amsterdam Avenue, a person standing on a window ledge, braced against the jambs, outline visible against the light within, ready to jump. I almost started — Should I shout out? Disrupt the concert? — when it became clear that the figure wasn’t moving. I squinted: It was a bit of scaffolding.

It’s not surprising that this Hitchcockian fantasy emerged as I listened to Mr. Sciarrino’s anxious, twitchy work. In a world of noise — ever more noise — he creates the opposite: sounds that skitter, creep and linger around silence. If a Beethoven symphony was one of the loudest things its original audience would have heard all year, a Sciarrino piece is often barely audible. One of his signatures is the milky tap-tap-tap of a wind instrument’s keys being depressed, perceptible only because the atmosphere is otherwise so ominously still.

There are many composers of the past 50 years who have played with silence and its neighbors. But Mr. Sciarrino is distinct from the Wandelweiser school, which emerged in the early 1990s and built on John Cage and Morton Feldman’s style of spacious quiet. His works, while similarly inscrutable, are not yogic or glacial or designed to direct your attention to ambient stirrings outside the music. His hush tends to be uneasy, vibrating, suffocating — that of the closet where you’ve hidden while the burglar prowls the house.


Mr. Sciarrino was born in 1947 in Palermo, Italy. He turned 70 on Tuesday, and the Columbia concert was conceived as a birthday celebration, one far more modest than those organized this year for his more famous septuagenarian contemporaries, John Adams and Philip Glass.

He was something of an artistic prodigy, largely self-taught in his youth as both a painter and, starting as a preteen, a composer. He studied in Rome and taught in Milan, but for decades now he has lived and worked in Città di Castello, in Umbria. “It’s in the middle of the town,” he told The Guardian in 2014 about his studio, “but it’s ‘molto tranquillo.’”

Very calm — in the midst of everything: That could also describe much of his music. In “Introduzione all’Oscuro,” from 1981, a sudden coalescing of the 12-member ensemble leads to a sudden disintegration, and the surge serves to focus your ears on the drama of shards and whispers that follows. There’s that characteristic creepy tap-tap-tap; muffled winds start to seem like forlorn church bells; a low, muted trombone sounds nocturnal, like a shadowy saxophone.

“Dialoghi sull’Ultima Corda” (2014) sets two cellists against each other in a conversation of tetchy, lonely characters, flecked with abrupt violences and slides. Arid plucks stand alongside glassy harmonics and held notes with growly burrs: Here, as in “Esplorazione del Bianco III” (1986), for a percussionist taking full advantage of a drum kit’s resources, Mr. Sciarrino’s music is colorless — white, obviously, comes to mind — but not textureless, just as water can exist as liquid, steam, snow, ice.

Seeing a performance of Monteverdi’s “L’Incoronazione di Poppea” when he was young made a deep impression on Mr. Sciarrino, and his work echoes the glamorous austerity of the earliest Italian Baroque. His operas and music dramas — those who saw it at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2001 won’t soon forget a stark production of “Luci Miei Traditrici,” a stylized Renaissance tale of adultery and murder — were necessarily missing from Wednesday’s hourlong program. They combine the tensely fluttering, flickering quality of his instrumental music with a remarkably varied approach to the human voice, sometimes speaking, sometimes keening, sometimes as pure-toned as a boy soprano.

But there was still theatricality at the Columbia concert. “Esplorazione del Bianco I,” from 1986, is a solo for double bass that derives much of its power from making that big, deep instrument sound so high and small. The player hunches over the bass, fingers scrawling out harmonics beyond the fingerboard: It’s a visual spectacle as much as an aural one.

“Omaggio a Burri” (1995) was written in honor of the painter Alberto Burri, whose parched, cracked canvases have a resemblance to Mr. Sciarrino’s music. It is a trio for violin, flute (for which he is one of the great modern composers) and clarinet, and that final instrument is made to be percussive — always that tap-tap-tap — while in certain passages also emitting a mellow, liquid tone of earthy color, like stout beer.

Or like blood. There is here, as almost everywhere in Sciarrino, the sense that this might be how things would sound if you could crawl inside your own body: a claustrophobic space of groaning, breathing, cracking; fragile yet surviving.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/arts ... ic-reviews

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John F
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Re: Salvatore Sciarrino Review

Post by John F » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:45 pm

His operas and music dramas — those who saw it at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2001 won’t soon forget a stark production of “Luci Miei Traditrici”
I saw it. I forgot it almost immediately. Not the kind of music I'm able to remember, or care to.
John Francis

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