In this program we deliberately look for musical roots in Renaissance and early Baroque music and their transposition in today’s time. Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino is one of todays composers, whose sound language has a very unique color, which is clearly based and involved with early music. Two of his works in which this focus is evident are heard in this program. One refers to Carlo Gesualdo, the other to Alessandro Stradella.
Our guitarist Maurizio Grandinetti also dealt with early music for decades. His approach, however, is more a translation of old music into our time; musical gestures and psychological emotional states, which are immanent in the music, are brought into our time in a new guise and unusually orchestrated, without touching the musical meaning – on the contrary.
The program is complemented by a commission to Basel based composer Lukas Langlotz, who also constantly deals with ancient and oldest music in a well-founded way in his compositional style. His new work will feature an “Arciorgano”, an organ built in Basel according to plans by the 16th-century Italian composer Nicola Vicentino, which allows 31 different pitches per octave.
About the arrangements:
Nikolaus Harnoncourt wrote in 1982: “The music of the past has become a foreign language through the progression of history, through its distance from the present and through its detachment from the context of its time. Individual aspects of a piece of music may be universally valid and timeless, but the message as such is bound to a particular time and can only be rediscovered if it is translated, as it were, into our present idiom.”
Nowadays there is a unique musical genre in which masterpieces of the past are reinterpreted by translating old masterpieces into a more or less contemporary language. With my arrangements, my intention is to look at the original music with my full expressiveness and intuition, going deep into the textual part. To this end, the vocal and textual parts have been left almost intact, but overlaid with a new instrumental framework.
The material of the arts has changed over the centuries, but their artistic content is recognized in our conscious perception of the present. Every time we evaluate art or listen to music, our current environment sets the standards for our artistic perception. It is up to us to decide how “original” the object must be in order to recognize it. As far as Renaissance restorations are concerned, we know that restorers at that time combined statues with the spirit of their own time, translating them into a new language that conveyed the energy typical of their era. The great art historian Cesare Brandi interpreted the Renaissance not as a revival of antiquity, but as a transfiguration of universal concepts, as part of a completely new creative process.
Today we find the music of the Renaissance and pre-baroque attractive mainly because of what the authors did not record in scores: the part reserved for improvisation and arrangement. Since the beginning of the 18th century, the habit was adopted that each composition corresponded to only one interpretation: the original one. Nothing was left to personal freedom. What would happen to occidental classical music if one tried to use a little Asian and African sensibilities, if one took into account “immaterial”, symbolic, ritual or religious values, instead of dealing with its historical authenticity?
After all, the performance of any piece of ancient music is a celebration of the absence of the original and its author. We have to decide whether to hide this absence or to fully acknowledge it.