Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing figures of 20th century music. Having suffered a breakdown following the Second World War, Scelsi began to explore the meditative qualities of sound almost as a form of therapy, sitting for hours at a time at his piano playing no more than a single note. This process of discovery constituted something of an epiphanic juncture in his musical development: Scelsi thereafter abandoned the serialism of his earlier compositions, taking this new appreciation of the intricate subtleties of sound as the starting point for all of his subsequent music. This music is a slow, kaleidoscopic procession of translucent orchestral colour saturated with mysterious, static tension and shimmering timbres.
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Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing figures of 20th century music. Having suffered a breakdown following the Second World War, Scelsi began to explore the meditative qualities of sound almost as a form of therapy, sitting for hours at a time at his piano playing no more than a single note. This process of discovery constituted something of an epiphanic juncture in his musical development: Scelsi thereafter abandoned the serialism of his earlier compositions, taking this new appreciation of the intricate subtleties of sound as the starting point for all of his subsequent music.
This music is a slow, kaleidoscopic procession of translucent orchestral colour saturated with mysterious, static tension and shimmering timbres.
Yet, the effect is never that of brutal dissonance. Instead the musical voices seem to circle each other furtively, occasionally coalescing into strikingly lucid harmonies before drifting apart once more: this music is perpetually expanding and contracting, slipping in and out of focus with intoxicating ambiguity. Scored for chamber orchestra and solo violin, Anahit neither embraces the traditional form of the concerto nor overtly rejects it, inhabiting an obscure position between narrative progression and complete abstraction: the solo violin acts as the focal point of the piece whilst simultaneously being assimilated into the overarching musical texture.
Positioned as the central thread around which all other musical material revolves, the glistening incandescence of the violin serves to anchor the intangibility of the surrounding soundscape, augmenting the evanescent pulsing of the orchestra with its metallic luminosity. Whilst this claim may seem somewhat quaint, it is in the ephemeral and iridescent music of Anahit that Scelsi provides his most compelling evidence.
Please note that the timings given below may no longer coincide with the recording. Anahit is a piece that rewards immersive listening and to dissect it into isolated events would serve only to reduce its mystique. Yet, a few signposts can be useful in grasping the piece for the first time. Anahit is divided into three sections: the first and last end are scored for the full orchestra along with the solo violin, acting as a frame for the brief central section which is scored for solo violin alone.
The gliding motion of the first section is briefly interrupted at , and again at , as interjections from the woodwind and brass become increasingly volatile.
Following the spacious interlude of the second section, the third passage brings the piece to a close with the pulsing of the orchestra supporting strained statements from the violin; as the music draws to a close the violin reaches out for and finally achieves the high G towards which the piece has been striving throughout its duration. Another fine recording is available on the Kairos label, conducted by Hans Zender, but the Accord set is more comprehensive.
Reblogged this on Perverse Egalitarianism and commented: I was just listening to this on the way to work — makes for a brilliant calm drive! You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Anahit , Giacinto Scelsi by tacet Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing figures of 20th century music. Below is a recording of Anahit followed by a brief listening guide. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Published: September 13, Filed Under: Avant-garde , Thomas May. Mikhail Emelianov says:.
He is best known for writing music based around only one pitch , altered in all manners through microtonal oscillations, harmonic allusions, and changes in timbre and dynamics , as paradigmatically exemplified in his Quattro pezzi su una nota sola "Four Pieces on a single note", This composition remains his most famous work and one of the few performed to significant recognition during his lifetime. His musical output, which encompassed all Western classical genres except scenic music, remained largely undiscovered even within contemporary musical circles during most of his life. Today, some of his music has gained popularity in certain postmodern composition circles, with pieces like his "Anahit" and his String Quartets rising to increased prominence.
Giacinto Scelsi: Quattro Pezzi per Orchestra; Anahit;...
Scelsi had, the year before, composed his masterwork for solo violin, Xnoybis. Only Hymnos had previously developed harmony as sumptuously as Anahit and the piece owes much of its overwhelming intensity to it. It consists of two parts, separated by a short cadenza for the soloist, beginning at the Golden Section. The violin follows a long ascending curve, rising by microtones from D to F-sharp, and the orchestra follows a similar upward move. Again and again, perfect triads and dominant seventh chords crystallyze, only to immediately melt into the glissandi; it is an enticing mystical voyage! The violin works out the pitches with a wealth of tremolos and oscillations on several strings, but pauses twice during brief orchestral interludes. Just before the cadenza, the harmony condenses onto unison F-sharp , but during this cadenza the violin continues to rise, reaching A-flat.
Follow us on. The scoring of the orchestra is: two flutes, bass flute, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, two horns, trumpet, tenor saxophone, two trombones, two violas, two cellos, and two double basses. The solo violin is re-tuned to G-G-B-D, increasing the concentration required of the soloist considerably, and again notated string by string. Unusually for Scelsi, this work was also performed the year after it was written: in athens with Devy Erlih the same man who had premiered Xnoybis in as soloist in The subtitle is "Lyric Poem dedicated to Venus" and Anahit is the ancient Egyptian name for Venus, as well as being the name of the main female deity in ancient Asia Minor. The form of the work is reminiscent of the ternary architecture of Hymnos , though Anahit is in three distinct sections which are built on the golden section rather than linear symmetry.