| excerpts from “Contemporary Composers”, Universal Music Publishing Classical, 2011
| by Marilena Laterza
Of Francesco Antonioni’s many qualities, it is his delicacy that is perhaps most surprising. His deft “touch of inspiration” goes hand in hand with his precision and determination, without creating the slightest sense of frivolity. Invariably animated by an interior momentum that brings to mind the idea of flight, his music resounds with melodies of unmistakable Mediterranean cantabilità, modal recontruction and rock/funk rhythms. In his scores, Antonioni’s Central European origins are crossed with a judicious postminimalism, achieving a language in which the contradictions between classical and popular music prove extraordinarily fruitful.
Characterized by an array of literary, cinematographic and pictorial references, which unveil broadly sweeping scenarios, the music of Giorgio Battistelli is invariably invested with a vividly theatrical sound. Even in his strictly instrumental work, rhythmic or melodic motifs assume the guise of characters on an imaginary stage, as do orchestral sections or individual instruments. The creative tension between formal organisation and musical intuition, in tandem with his contemporary and polychromatic language, grants Battistelli the rank of heir hic et nunc to the grand symphonic tradition, still a source of great fascination.
An astute pupil of post-modern thought and an insatiable seeker of knowledge, Carlo Boccadoro assimilates materials, experiences and suggestions derived from “other” styles – from jazz to pop to world music. His musical language however never fails to respect the criteria of construction that it borrows from the tradition of classical music. The “timbric” energy and virtuoso audacity of his chameleonlike scores, in which rhythm acts as a recurrent propulsive element, reveal a range of musical objects that are at times light-hearted, at times vigorous, at times evocative, offering a concrete and thoughtful response to Stravinsky’s insistence on a consciousness of the here and now.
Without dismissing the serialism of his early work, Philippe Boesmans cultivates the gift of expressivity, thanks to a language that embraces both consonance and repetition. His music is characterized by the voluptuous quality of his sound, crystalline at first listen, and a complex compositional craftsmanship which, informed by a dialectic relationship with tradition, features grand forms and an instrumental virtuosity that is never gratuitous. Boesmans’ is a music in which contrasting psychological impulses feed incessant dramatic momentum, unleashing extraordinary emotional force.
Emanuele Casale’s start as a self-taught musician has led him to build a personal workshop of musical tools that defy attribution to any school. Always purposeful, his work reveals a solid exploratory path, be it in the playful plasticity of pieces collected under essential numeric titles, or in the assimilation of poetic influences predominant in his symphonic pieces, not to mention the importance, dramatic and engagé, of his more recent work. His music is conceived as an incessant struggle between experimentation and communication, designed to draw the public closer to contemporary art music.
Animated by a profound desire to communicate and by unfailing dramatic intuition, Azio Corghi is always eager to tell a story, not just in his pieces that are explicitly tied to a text – often conceived in fertile collaboration with José Saramago – but also in his purely instrumental works. His passionate search for the perfect timbre, his refined orchestration and his sense of rhythm as a vital pulsation, are flanked by a Rossini-like sharpness and a post-modern play with tradition. Together they create a theatre of sound that transforms the listener into the protagonist of an all-encompassing cultural experience.
Notwithstanding his youth, Matteo Franceschini already boasts a substantial and multi-facetted catalogue, often enriched by successful interaction with literary texts or video art. He reflects creatively on traditional forms and genres, and never renounces the dramatic conception intrinsic to musical composition, which moulds the instruments as if they were characters in the agon. His work thus resounds with features borrowed from a wide array of repertoires – from baroque music to contemporary rock – thus opening classical music to the multitude of expressive possibilities available today.
Fascinated by the instruments and sounds forged over the centuries of the history of music, Luca Francesconi is also animated by the non-conceptualised creativity that he has experienced first-hand in his practice of jazz and rock. He constantly strives to blur the lines between culture and nature, technology and corporeality, complexity and beauty. He uses a rigorous control, at times electronic, of all the parameters of sound with which he administers the transformation of the material. This co-exists in his music with an intimately perceptive logic, giving rise to an experience of great acoustic impact with profound intellectual and sensorial charm.
In contrast to many of his fellow countrymen, Guo Wenjing has chosen not to leave China for other than very circumscribed periods so as to be able to cultivate his fervent interest in the musical heritage of his homeland. In fact, his patrimony permeates his works, blending in with the stylistic elements of the late 20th century European avant-garde. His recurrent use of traditional Chinese instruments or references to folk songs do not, however, translate into mere colouring effects, but rather invest the Western elements of Guo’s composition with a distinctive character. His writing is enchanting both in its dramatic majesty and in its dreamlike lyricism.
A passionate explorer in the field of computer-assisted music and synthesis through physical models, Mauro Lanza navigates the border between the acoustic and the electronic worlds, aiming to effect their fusion and reciprocal integration. The highly original sound that invests his music is characterised by a dimension that is as much playful and childlike as it is disturbing and crepuscular. This quality gives rise to a gradual and unexpected transformation of the musical material, calling to mind the astounding fluidity of natural phenomena and drawing the listener into a perceptive experience akin to alchemy.
At the crossroads between Italian, German and Slavic cultures, the music of Fabio Nieder has an unmistakably Middle European flavour, in which there are also melodic echoes of folk tradition. The sobriety of materials allows him to explore individual sounds, multiplied and transfigured in a disquieting, opalesque stillness, interrupted by sudden disruptive flashes. By virtue of meticulous construction, canonical forms and mathematical structures that coexist with a dimension of improvisation, he outlines a sparse, tenuous expressionism that balances on the inscrutable threshold between the conscious and the unconcious, between wakefulness and sleep.
Profoundly influenced by his encounter with the traditional music of India, Riccardo Nova stands out for the audacity of his musical quest that places the most experimental results of European classical music alongside a re-elaboration of the virtuoso polyrhythms of Carnatic music. Traditional orchestral combinations and large percussion sections, often supplemented by electronics, meet in a luxuriant sonic environment. The juxtaposition of archetypal and sensual rhythmic gestures converges with the complexity of Western sound in a vision that restores to music its fundamental spiritual force.
For Marco Stroppa, a “bilingual” composer in osmosis with tradition and electronics, musical creation is inseparable from an exploration of the expressive potentialities offered by the dialectical intervention of computer-assisted instruments. Enriched with a new dimension, the acoustic instruments are thus assembled in harmonic refractions, reverberating motifs and blends of resonances in a dialogue, finely chiselled with the finesse of a goldsmith. A careful placement and projection of the instruments in space, moreover, creates a sensorial dramaturgy that introduces the listener directly into the heart of the generation of sound.
Fabio Vacchi’s contemporary music is easily reconciled with the public and is perfectly capable of cohabiting in the same concert hall with the classical repertoire. His rigorous compositional craftsmanship is clearly related to the avante-garde but constantly shows itself to be attuned to the listener’s perception. He creates a careful interaction between harmonic, timbric, dynamic and structural choices that blend together in an idiom that is easily recognisable, constantly evolving and three-dimensional. The continuity of this formal process coexists with a refined lyricism, in keeping with an undeniably humanistic aesthetic.
Isidora Žebeljan shows a supreme mastery of contemporary composition techniques, enriched by luxuriant melodic invention and an unfaltering rhythmic daring. Listening to her music is a synaesthetic experience, psychologically and emotionally overwhelming in its impact. Resurgent glimpses of the musical folklore of the Balkans proudly furnish a pulsating force to the incandescent dance sequences and anguished elegies that alternate with each other in unpredictable, unimaginable, and at times cinematographic, formal progression.
(translation by Casa Ricordi, Milan)
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