Indagini stilistiche sugli esordi dell’attività compositiva di Scelsi View larger

Indagini stilistiche sugli esordi dell’attività compositiva di Scelsi

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Author Mario Baroni
Editor Mario Baroni e Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini
Series Quaderni dell’Archivio Scelsi
Nr. 1
Size 17×24, pp.159
Year 2013
ISBN 9788870967517

Price 7,00 €

The analytical method adopted follows the grammar theory outlined by the author in previous papers. In the present case the parameters analysed are organized in: macroform aspects, phrasing, tessitura, tension patterns, harmonic overtones; the structures are coherent; the reasons for the coherence are not to be found in the structures themselves, but in the expressive results which they produce; let us term ‘style’ the array of structures and the coherence of the expressive results; the stylistic structures are partially unstable; their mutations concern only a few particulars of the whole in order to find partially diverse coherences but retaining stable the basis of their own grammar.

The ten works examined are divided into four groups, distinguished by different stylistic coherences. The first group (referable to early twentieth-century French traditions) comprises Chemin du coeur for violin and piano and Scherzo for piano.

The works of the first group (composed shortly before or shortly after the year 1930) differ from the contemporary mechanism of Rotativa (consequently qualified as an occasional episode in Scelsi’s production) for a pronounced tendency to introspection. In the first passage this is developed with explicit post-Debussy features, while in the second although retaining some of these features these are accompanied by a markedly fragmentary formal order, followed by a firm renunciation of tonal leanings and an uninhibited use of dissonances.

The second group of works (datable around 1934) is characterized by an extraordinary formal firmness which suggests the advice of a learned maestro whose precise identity, however, remains unknown. Some episodes of burlesque lightness in the Sonata for violin recall traces of neo-classical aesthetics which also in this case appear to be occasional and definitely short-lived. The Sonata for piano, instead, is characterized as far as tension and tessitura structures are concerned by repeated dramatic climaxes.

In the third group (composed probably between 1934 and 1937) Capriccio differs from Four Poems first and foremost because there are no explicit traces of atonal interest in it (as in the Poems) and then because its evident formal disorganization links it more to the previous experience of Scherzo. The Four Poems are also sufficiently heterogeneous, although there is in the works of this group a noticeable grammatical aspect which unites them and distinguishes them from the preceding works: this aspect is the tendency to particularly harsh sonorities most appropriate for negating the traditional tuned figures. The fascination of Central European maestri like Koehler and Klein and of compositional models diverse from those adopted in Italy and France is indubitable, even though the possible influence of Skrjabin and Berg does not succeed in materializing in the specific technical procedures of either of the two.

The final group brings to light the stylistically relevant differences between the pieces of Suite no. 2. This leads to the assumption that the works were composed at different moments of the decade. In some of them (for example no. 1, but also in others not analysed in this paper) evident traces can be observed of tonal processes, while in others (for example no. 5) repetitive processes typical of later works are to be found, belonging to the late Thirties and early Forties.

As a whole the analysis proposes the hypothesis that Scelsi had adopted two different and parallel compositional methods during those years: on the one hand (probably with the assistance of some expert musicians) he wrote a good number of works, well-constructed and conforming to pre-existent models, some of which are included in the ten analysed in this paper; on the other hand, he improvised pieces at the piano which he subsequently produced in written form with the help of a few collaborators and occasionally even published.