A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum (Luigi Nono)
Dedicated to Pierre Boulez on the occasion of his 60th anniversary (on 26th March 1985), the composition A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum received its first performance on 31st March 1985 in Baden-Baden by Roberto Fabbriciani and Ciro Scarponi; the live electronics part was prepared by the Experimental Studio in Freiburg in Breisgau. The score was finished on 20th February 1985. The cooperation of Luigi Nono with flutists Roberto Fabbriciani and clarinettist Ciro Scarponi and their consulting in the field of instrumentation played a major role in Nono’s late output. The two musicians’ congenial concert performances, with the richness of harmonics of the contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet, determined the specific timbral aura of the work: it is difficult to distinguish which sounds are played by acoustic instruments and which are generated live in the electronics part. The composer was seeking precisely that perfect union between two types of sonority, because only then could he create that uninterrupted tissue, continuously fluctuating, characterised by an extremely subtle but insistent inner mobility. It is a sonority deployed in space and written for space, that actualises on the threshold between sound and the “blue silence”.
Mobility and spatiality are the two principal characteristics of the work. Luigi Nono did use the indication “a piú cori” on purpose in this work written for just two instruments, adopting the nomenclature of Venetian polychoral music of the Gabrielis – an indication that he used often, by the way: e.g. he called his seven instrumental groups “choirs” in 2° No hay caminos, hay que caminar… … Andrej Tarkowskij. Nono thus wrote in the short liner note to that composition:
A few choirs ever changing
Formants of the voice – timbres –
and some possibilities
through live electronics.
It is the formula “a few choirs ever changing” that draws our attention. In both solo parts, whose dynamics oscillate between p and ppppp with rare incursions of mezzo forte, a continuous variability of sound emission is required, from the standard technique up to a hiss, with different participation (or lack thereof) of determined pitches, sharp “Aeolian“ tones, whistles, clusters, harmonics, occasionally with the presence of an interrupted basic “shadow tone“. The electronic part, determining the spatial effect of the work, helps to perceive the at times incorporeally light timbre of the instruments, transforms it and reclaims it through the use of delay, making the taped sound become an element of the natural sound. The delay, in fact, makes the instrumental sound perceivable even after the soloist has become silent. The fusion between acoustic instruments and electronics that is the hallmark of this work is expressed in this continuity, too.
(liner notes by Paolo Petazzi, Luigi Nono e il suono
elettronico. 10° Festival di Milano Musica,
Teatro Studio, 9 October 2000)