Review of PIERLUIGI BILLONE: Sgorgo Y . N . oO, Kairos, 2016
When in November 2008 the Israeli guitarist Yaron Deutsch asked to the Italian composer Pierluigi Billone a piece for solo electric guitar, his answer was: “His answer – given at the doorstep – I still remember well:” If I write a piece for and -guitar, it will be in the spirit of Allan Holdsworth “.
Now, since 1992 I profess to be a total fan, absolutely partisan of the great English guitarist, shall I don’t buy and listen to this record? Absolutely not.
And I was right: Kairos label, who had already in 2016 produced its first CD for solo guitar with the excellent “CLAUDIO AMBROSINI: Song Book for Guitar” for the guitar of the Italian Alberto Mesirca, decided to close better last year with this other work, again for an Italian composer but for solo electric guitar.
What can we find about Allan Holdsworth in these three pieces for solo electric guitar? Billoni wasn’t joking when he talked about his “spirit”. Here we have the essence of his guitar technique: his prodigious left hand, the intensive use of legato and the tremolo arm. Absents are his, almost Renaissance, phrasing, his special improvisational and compositional structure and all his particular chords. Do you think thgis is less? I think is more.
The three tracks: Sgorgo Y (2012), dedicated to the same Yaron Deutsch, Sgorgo N (2013) and Sgorgo oO (2013) actually offer much more. Billone has created an effective triptych where the sound of the guitar is confronted with the amplifier’s low hum, the interpreter requires considerable technical expertise having to solicit the strings not only through the use of his right hand but also of the left, calling, checking and then stopping the sounds of his electric instrument.
The result is an almost immersive sound, especially in the second track the guitar seems to immerse itself in the sound of the amplifier response, generating oceanic references, abyssal echoes, tectonic shocks. The guitar’s sound continues to dive and to sprout from the silence and the drone of the amplifier’s humming, the instrument is not used in a conventional, but in an innovative and very interesting way by creating three notable passages that I hope will be played by other performers. The contemporary repertoire for electric guitar, in fact, is still pretty “stingy” with interesting songs, contemporary composers seem or to have not yet well realized the potential of this instrument or to watch with detachment and perhaps some fear to the masses of electric music generated by other musical genres. I think that Yaron Deutsch, Pierluigi Billon that the same Kairos don’t suffer from these problems and fears.
Yaron Deutsch born in Tel Aviv in 1978, is a guitarist and the artistic director of Ensemble Nikel. At age eighteen, he founded and led his first group – Ofek III – a fusion trio, playing his own compositions. In 1999, he enrolled at the Rubin Academy for Music and Dance in Jerusalem and studied under the instruction of guitarists Steve Paskof and Yossi Levi. In 2006, he founded the Tel Aviv based Ensemble for Contemporary Music – Ensemble Nikel together with saxophonist Gan Lev. He has frequently collaborated with both established and young composers, giving world premiere performances to numerous works. As a guest performer, he is frequently playing with Ensemble Klangforum Wien. He had occasional guest appearances with Ensemble Ascolta (Stuttgart), Ensemble Court Circuit (Paris), Ensemble Phace (Vienna), Ensemble musikFabrik (Koeln), Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, RAI Orchestra (Turin), Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Los Angeles Philharmonic in which he played under conductors Sylvain Cambreling, Péter Eötvös, Johannes Kalitzke, Zubin Mehta, Emilio Pomàrico, Pascal Rophé and Steven Slone among others. He is also a member of the free improv trio Ministry of Bad Decisions, together with drummer Brian Archinal and composer-improviser, Stefan Prins. Apart from his performances, Deutsch has been teaching at the IMPULS academy, Graz (2015) and at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt (2016) leading the guitar class. Since 2010 he has been the artistic director of “Tzlil Meudcan” – The International Summer Course & Festival for Contemporary Music, Israel.
Pierluigi Billone was born in Italy in 1960 and now lives in Vienna. He studied composition with Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann. Billone’s music has been performed by relevant interpreters in festivals such as Wien Modern, Festival d’Automne Paris, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Eclat-Stuttgart, Ultraschall-Berlin, Musica Viva München, TFNM Zürich, Ars Musica Bruxelles, Huddersfield NMF, World Music Days Wroclaw, Biennale Zagreb, Boston, New York and Bendigo Festival Sidney. His music has been regularly broadcasted by major radios stations (BBC, WDR, SDR, BRD, NDR, ORF) in Europe and beyond. His works received international awards such as the Kompositionspreis der Stadt Stuttgart (1993), the Busoni-Kompositionspreis (Academy of Arts Berlin 1996) the Wiener Internationaler Kompositionspreis (2004), the Ernst-KrenekPreis (Vienna 2006), and the Kompositionspreis der Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikstiftung (Munich 2010). Pierluigi Billone has been a guest professor for composition at the Music University of Graz from 2006 to 2008 and again from 2010-2012, then in 2009 at the Music University of Frankfurt. He is regularly invited as a teacher and lecturer in composition courses such as: Ferienkurse Darmstadt 2010, 2012, 2014; Impuls Akademie Graz 2011, 2013, 2015; Tzlil Meducan Israel 2011, 2014, 2015; MCIC Madrid 2015, 2016; Boston University 2015; New York University 2015; Composit-Rieti 2015, 2016. The works of Pierluigi Billone appear on the following labels: KAIROS, Stradivarius, Durian, EMSA and Ein_Klang.
1 Sgorgo Y (2012)
2 Sgorgo N (2013)
3 Sgorgo oO (2013)