Review of Now, And Then, ECM, 2017
What a sound! What a sound! This is a record that must be bought and listened to only for the sound that it manages to create! The ECM is confirmed as one of the record companies more attentive to the value and quality of sound recorded, releasing this beautiful cd where the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, led by Dennis Russell Davies, interprets the transcriptions of Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Legrenzi, Viadana and Wassenaer by Bruno Maderna (1920-1973) and Chemins V by Luciano Berio (1925-2003).
Maderna and Berio were great friends and close collaborators: it is impossible not to remember the role played by both in the electronic music field in the 50s and the impulse they gave to the creation and management of the Rai Phonology Studio in Milan. Key figures of the School of Darmstadt at the end of the 50s, both Maderna and Berio shared both the ambition to create new music by carrying on the serialism language and a musical vision also extended to the past with a total love for transcriptions and the rediscovery of authors of the past.
The Italian musicologist Massimo Mila has well defined Maderna’s charismatic figure in his book “Maderna Musicista Europeo” and the Berio’s writings, one of the most interesting essayists among contemporary composers, show how these two authors were also thinkers and bearers of cultural instances whose proportions went beyond the music itself.
An aspect that in my opinion shines through these music, characterized by the fact that these are all transcript musics. All of them, even Chemins V can also be considered a “transcription”, as suggested by his own composer: Chemins V is indeed a sort of reworking, made in 1992 by Sequenza XI (1987/88), the masterpiece of Berio for solo guitar, here transposed in a luminous writing for chamber orchestra.
The Argentine guitarist Pablo Márquez brilliantly tackles the dialogic qualities of the solo part, conceived by Berio as an idiomatic exchange between the legacy of the classical guitar and the flamenco’s tradition, which takes place within the expressive language of the composer.
The result is a brilliant record, with intense sounds, a magnificent and sumptuous sound able to fill and saturate the environment, a fantastic record!