JOSÉ MARÍA SÁNCHEZ-VERDÚ (b.1968): Gramma.
Catalogue Number: 08M100
Description: Gramma is an opera about the invention and evolution of writing as an human activity to codify, or possibly to conflict with, thought and memory. A series of tableaux from the ancient civilizations and the renaissance illuminate the various concepts under investigation. The orchestral contribution is largely limited to whisperings and mutterings in a broad and inventive coloristic palette often suggestive of breathing; these remain subtle and muted throughout, not dissimilar to the minutely textured shadings and calligraphic details often suggested by Sciarrino's soundworld. The texts are fragmented, frequently consisting of isolated words or a spoken phrase or two, representing in microcosm a much larger and more complex argument. For instance, a discussion between the god Thoth and king Thamos is reduced to a few words from each; the Lotus-eaters and Sirens episodes from the Odyssey, myths of memory, unfold largely without words. Pictures of the elaborate, somewhat audience-interactive stage production are included in the booklet, suggesting that a more complete experience is to be had with the visual component included; nonetheless, Sánchez-Verdú's music evokes atmosphere and provokes thought with precision, allowing the listener to construct the scenes internally, which given their subject matter is arguably where they belong anyway. No texts. Simone Stock (soprano), Daniel Johanssen (tenor), Howard Quilla Croft (baritone), Tom Sol (baritone, narrator), vocal ensemble, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra; Rüdiger Bohn.