Scelsi: Music for Cello Solo

Scelsi: Music for Cello Solo
Composer Giacinto Scelsi
Artist Marco Simonacci cello
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 95355
EAN code 5028421953557
Release November 2017

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About this release

An aristocratic background, Eastern philosophies, private study with Modernist luminaries of the early 20th century and a determined pursuit of solitude: all in their ways contribute to the unique soundworld of Giacinto Scelsi’s music. Despite shunning personal publicity, however, the composer surrounded himself with friends and favourite performers, among them the American-born, Dutch cellist Frances-Marie Uitti who came to represent Scelsi on the world stage in his latter years. To her care he entrusted Trilogy, which forms the main work on this album of solo cello music.

Using a limited tonal range, Scelsi concentrated on continually varying timbre and density: the effect is an exquisite intensity of expression, often hanging by a thread between sound and silence, between pitch and noise, yet always, palpably heading towards a visionary destination. Comprising Triphon (1956),Dithome (1957) and the Sanskrit-inspired Ygghur (1965), the Trilogy is still to some extent dependent on the Expressionist language he had learnt from disciples of Schoenbergian serialism, yet already personal to him, and now a classic of 20th-century solo cello repertoire. The album is completed by the two fleeting movements of Voyages from 1974, which deploy disembodied harmonics and other techniques familiar from Scelsi’s music such as tantalisingly slow, microtonal glissandi.

This valuable release follows the Brilliant Classics release in 2016 of the composer’s music for flute (BC95039), which attracted wide critical attention for ‘dauntless performances from Claudia Giottoli’ (The Guardian), and ‘the physicality and the voluptuousness’ of the recording: ‘it feels real, not too manicured and exactly right for a composer who was obsessed by the holistic nature of tone.’ Marco Simonacci hascontributed several acclaimed recordings to the Brilliant Classics catalogue including the cello music of Scelsi’s contemporary and brother in sound-exploration, Morton Feldman (BC9401).

“you have to enter into sound, penetrate it in its triple essence: physical, psychic and creative”, words by Giacinto Scelsi, one of the most influential and enigmatic avant-garde composers of 20-th century Italy. Born into a wealthy family he went to Vienna for his education, studied with Arnold Schoenberg and returned to Italy where he organized concerts introducing contemporary composers like Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Hindemith and Stravinsky. Later he was influenced by eastern spiritualism which radically changed his conception of music, in which he had an important role for improvisation for both composer and performer.
The work for cello solo on this new recording illustrate Scelsi’s journey to the roots of sound. The Trilogia makes up the different stages of Man’s mortal experience: youth/energy/drama, maturity/thought and the final catharsis. This music invites the listener to go with the flow, without worrying about rational perception or explanation.
Played with deep conviction and dedication by Italian cellist Marco Simonacci, who already successfully recorded for Brilliant Classics works by John Cage and Morton Feldman.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. The 3 Stages of Man, I. Triphon: I. Giovinezza
  2. The 3 Stages of Man, I. Triphon: II. Energia
  3. The 3 Stages of Man, I. Triphon: III. Dramma
  4. The 3 Stages of Man, II. Dithome: I. Maturità – Energia – Pensiero
  5. The 3 Stages of Man, III. Ygghur: I. Vecchiaia
  6. The 3 Stages of Man, III. Ygghur: II. Ricordi
  7. The 3 Stages of Man, III. Ygghur: III. Catarsi, liberazione
  8. Voyages: I. Il allaint seul
  9. Voyages: II. Le fleuve magique