NICOLA SANI (b.1961): Seascape IX, “Münster” for Orchestra, Deux, le contraire de ‘un’ for Orchestral Ensemble, Light Red over Black for String Orchestra and Electronics, Gimme Scelsi for Orchestral Ensemble, Tempestate for Orchestra and Live Electronics.

Catalogue Number: 07X057

Label: Stradivarius

Reference: STR 37186

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: In the works we offered previously (07J127) for unusual solo instruments and electronics, Sani expressed his intent as transcending the boundaries of conventional music - redundant old stuff like melody, harmony, rhythm, recognizable instrumental timbres - in favor of the manipulation of artificial sounds in order to draw closer to the natural phenomena from which they are derived, or that they seek to describe; accordingly, those works were written as evocations of the four "elements" of antiquity. Those on this CD were all written at least five years since that previous disc came out, and all feature orchestral ensembles; for whatever reason, they resemble the forms and intentions of "traditional" music much more closely, while exploring, and even extending, the innovative sonic techniques of the earlier pieces. Thus the Seascape, despite its extended instrumental techniques and lack of themes or (almost entirely) of tonal harmony, functions like a Romantic tone poem; rather than trying to emulate the sounds of wind and water, it describes them in various moods, including a clear dramatic arc that leads to a very palpable storm sequence and its abatement. The most recent work, 2019’s Tempestate is an even more satisfying dramatic statement. Here, microphones pick up the orchestra in real time and electronically "map" the instruments in space, allowing a "virtual orchestra" of sonically transformed doppelgängers to be projected spatially and under the conductor's control - something that has only been technologically possible very recently. But the piece is a powerful tone poem, of sorts, but in anew but thoroughly comprehensible vocabulary. The concept of two as the opposite, rather than the plural of one - an idea that Sani got from a book by the Italian writer Erri De Luca - is explored in a concertante piece that deconstructs the traditional concerto in this light; an atonal, athematic piano concerto that eschews the conventional dichotomies of classical writing in favour of independence or confrontation between soloist and ensemble throughout. Light Red on Black refers to Mark Rothko, the tape part, made up of hugely amplified tiny sounds from the string instruments, like the microscopic light and shade in the brushstrokes of a colour field painting. Gimme Scelsi - the booklet notes make a feeble pun on The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" which has nothing to do with it - is an orchestral "interpretation" of material from Scelsi's experimental improvised tape recordings, very different from anything that Tosatti ever made of them. Alvise Vidolin (live electronics), Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto; Marco Angius.


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