Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED


Music cannot exist without sound, but sound can certainly exist without music. Therefore it would seem that sound is more important. We can start from here. (Giacinto Scelsi)

For more than twenty years after Giacinto Scelsi’s death in Rome on August 9, 1988, the doors to the archives of the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi remained locked. Conjecture, speculation and rumours about Scelsi’s work abounded during this time; however, hard facts and a deeper understanding of his techniques as composer were impossible to come by, due to the rigorously denied access to his papers. 

In the course of a joint project between the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi and Klangforum Wien, Uli Fussenegger was given permission in 2011 to inspect the existing sound documents of the foundation and he made some spectacular discoveries: Scelsi’s so-called “improvisations”, which he played on an Ondiola and then allegedly passed on to his assistants to be transcribed as pieces for ensemble and orchestra, reveal themselves to be in fact quite advanced work notes – if not actually complex compositions. In the course of a multi-leveled work process, they were recorded on tape during repeated sessions. 

On the basis of some of the most sophisticated of these unpublished sound documents, Ragnhild Berstad, Uli Fussenegger, Georg Friedrich Haas, Fabien Levy, Tristan Murail, Michael Pelzel, Michel Roth and Nicola Sani will compose new pieces for Klangforum Wien. In the course of this project, Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED, offering some insight into the universe of one of the most complex artistic personalities of the 20th century, Scelsi’s voice will become audible – he recorded a kind of memoir on tape – as well as the sound of the Ondiola, played by himself, which to date has never been heard in a concert hall. 

Youtube

Music cannot exist without sound, but sound can certainly exist without music. Therefore it would seem that sound is more important. We can start from here. (Giacinto Scelsi)

25 September 2014
8.30 p.m.
Bozen, Bahnhofsremise Transart Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED

Georg Friedrich Haas — Introduktion und Transsonation 
Giacinto Scelsi — Anahit
    — I presagi
Tristan Murail — Un sogno
Ragnhild Berstad — cardinem

Gunde Jäch-Micko, violin
conductor: Johannes Kalitzke

11 September 2014
8 p.m.
Oslo, Kulturkirken Jakob Ultima Festival Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED UA

A project of Klangforum Wien in cooperation with Fondazione Isabella Scelsi Rome. Kindly supported by Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung.

 

Georg Friedrich Haas — Introduktion und Transsonation
Giacinto Scelsi — Anahit
Tristan Murail — Un sogno
Ragnhild Berstad — cardinem UA

Gunde Jäch-Micko, violin
conductor: Johannes Kalitzke

10 August 2014
6 p.m.
Darmstadt, Sporthalle am Böllenfalltor Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED BACKSTAGE

Georg Friedrich Haas — Introduktion und Transsonation
Michel Roth — MOI
Giacinto Scelsi — 4. Streichquartett

conductor: Sylvain Cambreling

9 August 2014
6 p.m.
Darmstadt, Sporthalle am Böllenfalltor Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED BACKSTAGE UA

Giacinto Scelsi — Anahit
Fabien Levy — à tue-tête UA
Michael Pelzel — Sculture di suono – in memoriam Giacinto Scelsi
Nicola Sani — Gimme Scelsi
Tristan Murail — Un sogno

Gunde Jäch-Micko, violin
conductor: Sylvain Cambreling

28 June 2014
3 p.m.
Aldeburgh, Britten Studio Aldeburgh Festival Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED

Tristan Murail — Désintégrations 
    — Un sogno
Georg Friedrich Haas — Introduktion und Transsonation
Giacinto Scelsi — Anahit

Gunde Jäch-Micko, violin
conductor: Ilan Volkov

11 May 2014
Witten, Theatersaal Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED UA UA

Tristan Murail — un sogno UA
Michael Pelzel — Sculture di suono – in memoriam Giacinto Scelsi UA
James Tenney — 'Scend for Scelsi

Gerald Preinfalk, saxophone
conductor: Emilio Pomàrico




Tristan Murail — un sogno

One day, long ago, when I was visiting him, Giacinto Scelsi showed me how he worked : by his piano was an  "ondioline", and 2 tape recorders (the ondioline was a kind of early synthesizer, which could produce a variety of sounds, and which, most importantly, allowed controlled  vibrato and micro-intervals). With this equipment, he improvised and recorded layer after layer of sounds, thus creating a sort of a sketch, or simulation, of the future piece - what we can now do much more easily and convincingly with computer software. Can we consider Scelsi a pioneer of the "computer-assisted composition" of today? 

Anyway, when I was approached by Klangforum and asked to participate into the Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED project, I was amazed to discover that the tapes that Scelsi had recorded were still existing, and that they confirmed what I remembered of my conversations with him, so long ago. Particularly moving was the tape for Anahit, one of Scelsi's most beautiful pieces in my opinion (of which we did a Paris premiere in 1975 with our ensemble L'Itinéraire). When you know the piece well - as I think I do - you can hear, or guess, through the distorted, eroded, and often ugly sounds of the tape, all the details of the piece to be born, even details of orchestration or playing techniques, such as extreme vibratos or tremolos.

My plans, for my contribution to the Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED project, are, starting from one of the unused electronic improvisations of Scelsi, as the project requests, after possibly 


Michael Pelzel — Sculture di suono – in memoriam Giacinto Scelsi

Lately, for various reasons to do with tonal, formal and poetic criteria, I’ve begun to concern myself [to engage with/to concentrate on?] more intensely and analytically with so-called “slow” music, that’s to say the slow movements of works by Wagner, Richard Strauss, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Schönberg (Transfigured Night) and also Mahler (the last movement of his 3rd symphony). The idea of a music which is “in flow”, which moves seemingly endlessly and with a formal pull towards a destination, fascinates me; so now I would like to try something poetic of the kind with  free-tonal means of my own.

Originally, the project Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED of Klangforum Wien did not come to my attention as directly linked with the above-mentioned considerations. The idea of writing my own music to compliment Scelsi’s original ondionline recordings might at first even have appeared to be a fascinating contrast – but perhaps there was also a clear inner connection. Both in the “stream-of-sound music” of the early 20th century and in Giacinto Scelsi’s music it is the continuous drawing of melodic-harmonic lines, which guide the music from within, give it direction and internal balance and finally also provide the coherence of the pieces’ outer form.

For example, Richard Strauss forged a link between his predominantly tonal harmonic sequences with the help of endless chromatic lines, series of bass sounds and internal, linear threads of reference. In Scelsi’s music, with its so-to-speak “supple organ sound”, elements with a strong reference to tonal music appear as well - for example in his excessive use of thirds and sixths. Creating a connection between these two worlds of sound almost becomes inevitable in the circumstances. The aim is to transform the sound of the ensemble into a kind of modelling compound with the capacity for modulation. Sounds are progressively transformed into other sounds. In this process, micro-tonal states of oscillation can manifest themselves, which are in places supported by processes of transformation rich in tonal colour. In the later course of the piece I will work with so-called “poly-spectral” harmonics, where with the help of different interlocking fifth-blocks, which function as a chordal foundation, I will construct a choral-type setting which will be coloured by a spectral superstructure in the regions of the treble.

Giacinto Scelsi, too, creates his specific, floating sound-scapes by juxtaposing stationary sounds and glissando-like lines with their subtle movements, which produce the vibrations and inter-tonal oscillations which are so archetypical for his music. My idea and my approach are therefore aimed at something like a synthesis of these two ideas: Very idiosyncratic and personally coloured harmonics which, with the help of compositional and tonal means, approaches a kind of convergence with Scelsi’s music. A continuously flowing stream of sounds with richly coloured, harmonic, compositional and ornamental nuances…

31 May 2013
Luleå Kulturen Hus Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED
1 May 2013
Cologne, Großer Sendesaal des WDR Acht Brücken Giacinto Scelsi REVISITED UA UA UA UA
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