Board index All times are UTC. Forum rules Post here only items useful for reference purposes. Streams Videos All Posts. Berio adapts playing techniques such as tamburo striking the strings with the hand at the sound hole and rapid strumming from the former tradition, contrapuntal techniques from the latter.
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And what are the boundaries of a piece of music? Is an instrument bounded by the reality of the individual piece someone happens to be playing on it, so that all exists when you hear a violinist play, say, a solo Bach partita is that single piece, that single player, and that single instrument? And is a musical work like an island, cut off from the rest of music history by a sea of difference so that the perimeter of one piece never impinges on the coast of another?
A place to start with Berio? Each sequenza sequence is a compositional love-letter from Berio to the repertoires and possibilities of each instrument. But each of the Sequenzas is essential listening and essential Berio. Others of my favourites are number III for voice, composed in for his ex-wife Cathy Berberian, the voluptuously violent Sequenza VI for viola, number XI for guitar, which distils and transcends the traditions of classical and folk guitar into 15 minutes, and number XII for bassoon, which bassoonist Pascal Gallois plays in an apparently never-ending cycle of circular breathing, creating a continuous sound from the his instrument for an almost unbelievable 18 minutes — just one of the examples where Berio pushes an instrument and a performer, to their limits, and beyond.
The Sequenzas were themselves starting points for another series of works called Chemins, pathways through the material of the Sequenzas but exploded and amplified into new contexts, scored for larger instrumental groups or even for different solo instruments.
Listen to what Berio does in Chemins II , based on the viola sequenza. The vocalists simultaneously provide a commentary on what is happening in the performance "where now? Within the framework of the whole five-movement piece, Sinfonia listens to itself, so that its final movement does to the piece what the third movement does to Mahler.
Coro makes a kind of meta-world music by turning a poem by Pablo Neruda into a gigantic, dissonant lament, but it also uses folk texts from all over the world, from Polynesia to Peru, to create what Berio himself described as "the plan for an imaginary city which is realised on different levels, which produces, assembles and unifies different things and persons, revealing their collective and individual characters, their distance, their relationships and conflicts within real and ideal borders".
Andrew Clements writes passionately about Coro here.
Sequenza XI, for guitar
Apparently he scared some listeners so much that they forgot to really listen, preferring to bring instead a grab-bag of adjectives that they could apply to most prominent composers of the period: "cerebral," "soulless," and their Roget equivalents. For me, Berio depended less on "intellectual" manipulations than many, especially his compatriot Luigi Nono. Indeed, his music showed a reliance, sometimes an over-reliance, on intuition and the feelings of the moment. I remember a story once told me by a composition professor with a masters in math who had gotten a grant to work at the Princeton computer-music project. This was in the days before synthesizers and PC-sequencers indeed, PCs , when computers took up large rooms, programs were typed on punch cards or teletype machines, and a composer had to specify all the components of a single note, including wave forms and overtones.
Sequenza IV, for piano