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PERFORMING LUIGI NONO'S FLUTE MUSIC

  • Daniel Agi and Helen Bledsoe
Abstract

A performer of Luigi Nono's late works is often faced with crucial questions regarding interpretation and technical details. An important tradition has evolved in performing these works, nevertheless it is not always easy to find the necessary information to play them adequately. This article attempts to answer some of the technical and interpretational questions in the context of Das atmende Klarsein and A Pierre – Dell'Azzurro silenzio, inquietum. Our hope is that it will contribute to the discussion about authenticity and freedom of interpretation and provide flutists with practical information not found in the scores.

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1 Zattra, Laura, Burleigh, Ian and Sallis, Friedemann, ‘Studying Luigi Nono's A Pierre. Dell'azzurro silenzio, inquietum (1985) as a Performance Event’, Contemporary Music Review, 30, no. 5 (2011), pp. 411–39.

2 For example, Ciro Scarponi, clarinets and Giancarlo Schiaffini, tuba, trombone and euphonium.

3 Philippe Albèra interview with Luigi Nono in 1987: ‘[PA] Le jour où vous n’êtes plus là, que se passe-t-il ? [LN] D'autres musiciens feront d'autres musiques! On essaie tout de même de fixer graphiquement les choses, mais j'ai dit plusieurs fois que je ne tiens pas au concept d’écriture! C'est comme la musique de Gabrieli: il écrit “a sonar et cantar”. La dynamique, le tempo, la répartition entre voix et instruments ne sont pas fixés. La pratique qui en faisait la réalisation a disparu … [PA] Pour vous, faire, communiquer, vivre l'expérience de la création, est plus important qu'aboutir à une forme fixée … [LN] Absolument.’ Quoted in Zattra, Laura, ‘A colloquio con Roberto Fabbriciani’, Rassegna Musicale Curci, 67, no. 3 (2014), pp. 4551.

4 See, for example, Levine, Carin and Mitropoulos-Bott, Christina, The Techniques of Flute Playing I (Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 2002) or Veale, Peter and Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen, The Techniques of Oboe Playing (Kassel: Bärenreiter Verlag, 1994).

5 The general rule is that effects with a covered embouchure produce tones that sound a major seventh lower. However, the curve of the bass flute creates a more complicated acoustic environment. To produce this sounding C#, I finger the B$ which lies a major second below the C#.

6 The spectral analysis was done by Nono, in the studio, or by Artaud, Pierre Yves, for the preparation of his book, Flûtes au présent (Paris: Editions Joberts, 1980). Fabbriciani mentions Artaud as Nono's source for multiphonics, although Fabbriciani's manuscript indicates the fingering system from another source, Bartolozi's, Bruno New Sounds for Woodwind, trans. ed., and Reginald, by Smith (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).

7 Zattra, Burleigh and Sallis, ‘Studying Luigi Nono's A Pierre’.

8 Benjamin, Walter, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Selected Writings, 1: 1913–1926, ed. Bullock, Marcus and Jennings, Michael W. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 262.

9 Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, p. 258. Earlier, Benjamin states: ‘Translation is so far removed from being the sterile equation of two dead languages that of all literary forms it is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own’.

10 Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, p. 261.

11 Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, p. 260.

12 Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, p. 260.

13 Stanislavski, Constantin, An Actor Prepares, trans. Reynolds, Elizabeth Hapgood (New York: Theatre Arts, 1936).

14 Zattra, Burleig and Sallis, ‘Studying Luigi Nono's A Pierre’.

15 Preface to the score Nono, Luigi, A Pierre. Dell'azzurro silenzio, inquietum, ed. Richard, André and Mazzolini, Marco (Milan: Casa Ricordi, 1996). The spatialization described also has a connection with the indication ‘á più cori’ in the subtitle of the piece. Nono makes specific reference to the Venetian polychoral style of the sixteenth century. Notable exponents of this practice, such as Giovanni Gabrieli, placed several ensembles around the congregation in the Basilica San Marco, thus using space as a compositional parameter.

16 For example bar 2, bar 9 on beat 3, bar 16 etc.

17 André Richard and Marco Mazzolini in preface to Nono, A Pierre, p. xxii.

18 Preface to Nono, A Pierre, e.g. pp. iv and xvii.

19 See www.hp-haller.homepage.t-online.de/venedig.html. Here too the misleading term ‘contra-alto flute’ is used.

20 Pitch notation in this text follows the Helmholtz system: c′ equals middle c.

21 All pitch indications in the article are, as in the score, an octave and a perfect fourth higher than the sounding pitched.

22 It would be interesting to try these passages on a narrower bass flute. Perhaps this would be closer to the sound of the Jäger flute.

23 See Table 1: Fingerings and comments, e.g. bars 36 and 38 as well as 46.

24 This and the following details about the execution of these techniques came out of my collaboration with Joachim Haas at the SWR Experimental Studio. Haas has worked with both André Richard and Roberto Fabbriciani on realisations of A Pierre.

25 See Preface to Nono, A Pierre, p. xxii, third paragraph of the text.

26 Nono, Luigi, Das atmende Klarsein, ed. Richard, André and Mazzolini, Marco (Milan: Ricordi, 1987/2005).

27 Preface to Nono, A Pierre, p. xxii.

28 NEOS 11122CD, Roberto Fabbriciani – flute, Ernesto Molinari – clarinet, SWR Experimental Studio.

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Tempo
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