Walter Prati, Gianni Trovalusci – Bussotti, Prati, Sani, Mitchell, Trovalusci: Soffio Elettrico (2023)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 55:38 minutes | 505 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Da Vinci Classics
“Harmony”, “concord/accord”, “syntony”… there are numerous terms which properly belong in the vocabulary of music (or are akin to it, as is the case with accord and chord) and which express the human values of friendship, sympathy (another term widely employed in acoustics!), and amity.While it is not a straightforward conclusion that people playing music together will also be good friends (far from it!), it is also true that the presence of human bonds among musicians is a powerful element in favour of a successful joint musical realization. When music expresses and conveys, realizes and mirrors, fosters and promotes human relationships, then one of its crucial purposes is accomplished, and it becomes a mirror of something beyond it, and yet deeply related to it.
This album bespeaks one such friendship, or, rather, several of them. The principal of them is that between composer Walter Prati and flutist Gianni Trovalusci (both of whom define themselves also as “performers”). But other meaningful relationships are established among all other protagonists of this album. In fact, the listener will vainly seek for a uniformity of sound, or for a homogeneity in the various composers’ approach to music. Quite the contrary: this album beautifully exemplifies the variety and diversity of the possible views on contemporary music and electronics. Instead, the true unifying factor behind this recording is the convergence of all works around the personalities of the performers, since these pieces were all written specifically for Trovalusci and were later interpreted electronically. None of these pieces has been previously recorded or released; they represent a palette of aesthetically diverse experiences, which mirror the two performers’ itinerary and particularly their joint path. The variety of the recorded pieces (composers of the historical avantgardes, or of the early twentieth century, along with living composers who however have very different aesthetical views) bears witness to the diversity of this panorama and to its richness.
One of the protagonists of this recording is Roscoe Mitchell, who is a cofounder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. It is an epoch-making ensemble of the Chicago avantgarde, whose roots are deeply intertwined with the great tradition of Afro-American and jazz music. Since the 1970s, the Art Ensemble has been among the leaders in a perspective of musical emancipation and interrelatedness with different musical traditions. But this open-mindedness also characterizes the other composers represented here, as is the case with Nicola Sani and with Walter Prati himself: they all belong in a very open context, bound in a variety of different ways to contemporary music. To this, the essential component of improvisation should be added, one which – paradoxically – “composes” this mosaic of diverse experiences.
Sylvano Bussotti has been one of the undisputed giants of the Italian avantgarde. Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, his presence was intensely felt in the Italian musical panorama, also thanks to the Bussotti Opera Ballet in Genazzano. There, along with other artists, he had created an artistic experiment deeply marked by his personality. The Three Arcangeli recorded here pay homage, each in turn, to one of the three great Archangels of the Christian tradition, i.e. Gabriel (who spoke to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation), Michael (who defends the believers from the attacks of evil) and Raphael (who heals and comforts). These three pieces were all dedicated to Rocco Quaglia, Bussotti’s lifelong partner and a famous dancer who shared with Bussotti the quest for an artistic language. Bussotti frequently made use of visual elements (such as photographs or paintings) as the starting point for his compositions and elaborations: this kind of inspiration constitutes a widely shared practice among musicians who create “radical” improvisations.
Following a specific request by Trovalusci, Quaglia kindly shared with him the “scores” (but one should rather define them as pictograms) of the three Archangels, which were written for Quaglia himself and presented to him on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s in 2008, when the zenith of Bussotti’s career had already been left behind and a new stage, more intimate as concerns the number of engagements, had intervened. These pieces had received but one performance (and this is also not entirely proved), by a singer; therefore, this recording is a premiere.
Both these Arcangeli and Mitchell’s piece were originally created as works for unaccompanied flute; however, both Mitchell himself and Quaglia on behalf of the deceased Bussotti accorded permission to Prati and Trovalusci for intervening electronically on them.
Trovalusci had known Mitchell at Mills College, where Trovalusci had given a master class on Italian aleatoric music. Mitchell then invited Trovalusci to perform a piece for solo improviser and symphony orchestra (premiered with the Scottish BBC Symphony Orchestra and later reproposed, among others, in San Francisco). Mitchell, as a token of friendship and esteem, was glad to grant permission to intervene electronically on his composition. The result has received the composer’s approval, and therefore represents a version authorized by him.
And, in spite of the diversity of the recorded programme, there has been an observable convergence among all pieces, genres, styles and works recorded. The common thread, of course, is the flute’s sound, but the kind of electronic elaborations varies dramatically.
In the case of Bussotti, electronics and flute shared a common reading of the score, in parallel. The flute performed the piece, and Walter Prati intervened electronically, in a joint work on the suggestions provided by this imaginative score. In Mitchell’s piece, Trovalusci had been instructed by the composer to avoid the so-called “extended techniques” of flute performance, but rather to limit himself to the traditional modes of emission; therefore, electronic elaboration and live electronics were applied, in the fashion of operations on sound. In Mitchell’s piece, therefore, Prati intervened directly on the flute’s sound, colouring and expanding it. In the fashion of traditional live electronics, the electronic process is deeply bound to the live performance, so that, when no sound is produced by the instrumentalist, no elaboration is possible.
There is therefore a total interdependence, an indissoluble intertwining. In the case of Bussotti, instead, flute and electronics were conceived – in a manner of speaking – independently from each other. Here, electronics was produced through a particular kind of synthesizer controlled by a keyboard, so that the two musicians created a kind of duo, with two entirely different and autonomous instruments.
In the case of Sani’s piece, there is a “tape” (to use a conventional term; actually a file) over which the flute plays, and which is elaborated through efficacious, if not too complex, processes. In Prati’s own piece, there is a fixed part, a part of elaborated flute, and then improvisation where the two instruments freely improvise over musical stimuli and gestures.
For the elaboration of Debussy’s Syrinx a still different kind of electronics was employed. The first step consisted in the complete recording of the piece by Trovalusci, in its entirety. Then, Prati intervened creating sections from that recording, working on the flute’s sound and recomposing the various fragments. Occasionally, the original music is still recognizable; on other occasions, it offers itself in a shape which is alienated from its original structure. The result is a memory, a remembrance of something which is deeply ingrained in our Western repertoire, but which does not follow the itinerary we know, creating new situations which are still deeply bound to the original structure.
Prati and Trovalusci sought, throughout the creative process leading to this album, to find the liminal territory where contemporary music, performance and jazz can meet. They work, in their own words, revolves around the fault-lines of these different genres, where aleatoric music, improvisation and written music meet. These practices are in fact explicitly required in Mitchell’s piece, where there is traditionally composed music followed by the clear prescription to improvise. After another through-composed section, there is the instruction to “play cards”. These cards are a signature trait of Mitchell’s style, and consist of musical fragments, written on small rectangles of paper, which can be played, superimposed to each other, tampered with. In fact, in Cards in the Faces of Roses Mitchell’s entire compositional poetics is found. Through the Cards, generating modules which prompt Mitchell’s compositions and improvisations, the musical itinerary is built, freely and openly, but with deep roots in the notational material.
The temporality of music is thus disrupted by the spatiality of Mitchell’s cards. Similarly, the pictograms of Bussotti’s Arcangeli represent a visualization and atemporalization of the process of music-making. Here, numerous written words are found, which are spoken by the flutist inside the flute. The splinters of musical score found in these pictograms, not unlike Mitchell’s cards, constitute something akin to a Gestalt game of background, notes, colours.
Improvisation is welcomed and encouraged also in Prati’s piece, where freely repeated phrases in the central section leave room for the interpreter’s choice. Improvviso 1 meaningfully closes the album, and does this under the aegis of free improvisation. Arguably, improvisation by more than one individual is only possible when there is a full understanding of the other’s musical perspective and intentions, and the desire to respond appropriately, to “welcome” his or her musical ideas in one’s own musical horizon. Thus, a successful improvisation such as Improvviso 1 is the perfect seal at the closure of this album, marking and embodying that musical friendship and harmony which has been, possibly, the true protagonist of this whole recording project.
Together, therefore, these pieces represent a rich palette of possibilities as concerns different aesthetical approaches, different electronic techniques, different compositional strategies; but, as in a musical mosaic, this very diversity is not perceived as something fragmentary or disconnected. This surprising result is achieved through the power of the performers’ personality, doubtlessly, but also, probably, thanks to the “harmony” they experienced in their common quest for a shared language, for a common musical ground, for the possibility of expressing through music the creative “alliance” they have lived for many years of joint musicianship.
01. Gianni Trovalusci – Sysdebu Recomposed (04:56)
02. Gianni Trovalusci – I tre arcangeli: I. Arcangelo Gabriele (02:52)
03. Gianni Trovalusci – I tre arcangeli: II. Arcangelo Michele (03:26)
04. Gianni Trovalusci – I tre arcangeli: III. Arcangelo Raffaele (03:38)
05. Gianni Trovalusci – Flute Fatale (11:30)
06. Gianni Trovalusci – Cards in the Faces of Roses (10:07)
07. Gianni Trovalusci – Grani di ricordi nel tempo… (06:58)
08. Gianni Trovalusci – Improvviso 1 (12:09)
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