Saturday, August 6, 2011

Luigi Nono - La Fabbrica Illuminata (Wergo/Heliodor - 2549 012)

After writing about Luciano Berio, it is inevitable not to write about Luigi Nono. They are both the undisputable strongholds of 20th century comtemporary classical music in Italy as being experts on experimental music and musique concrete. They both studied at Darmstadt, but Nono got the better edge in terms of early respect by marrying the daughter of Arnold Schoenberg, Nuria. This is an interesting partnership.

The most striking thing about Nono's music is that through all the years and experimentations, modelings, remodelings and restructurings, his main goal in music has been to create a mirror of reality in music. I have no idea if there is a movement called realism in music, but if there is, Luigi Nono is certainly up there.

One of the reasons for his passion in realism in music is the fact that he was a hardcore communist. Even though he has openly commented about himself keeping political belief and music apart, most of his works have extreme symbolisms that are attaching them directly down to people. The first composition of the record is named "La Fabbrica Illuminata" and it is directly an undercover criticism of the capitalist system. The composition is made up of sounds and noises that can be found in a factory. These sounds are then combined with electronic sounds and then played with. There is also live commentary about the ongoings in the factory.

On the B side we are faced with two compositions with one being based on the poem of Antonio Machado, "Ha venido, Canciones para Silvia". It is sung by 7 sopranos with 1 being solo and 6 acting as chorus. There is no electronic background or sampling used on this composition, vocals are transformed and it is extremely difficult to follow up with the poem due to the vocalization used. The feeling it creates is based on continuation of vocals between solo and chorus with vowels being the main connecting point.

The second composition on the B side is "Ricardo cosa ti hanno fatto in Auschwitz". The name of the composition is translated as " Ricardo what have you done in Auschwitz". Due to the heavy effects of the WWII in most of the contemporary composers, Nono was also heavily shaken by the war and Auschwitz was one of his key points. The composition was about the trials which took place in Frankfurt concerning the atrocities in Auschwitz.

To be honest, these are not compositions that are to be performed in a concert hall. They are more of social criticisms of a musical producer with a communist background who is trying to send out messages with the main medium he has, which is music. For some people, it is hard to define this as music, but this is not just music, it is a blending of sociology, idealism, and realism where the blending pot itself is music.

Before I forget, there is one more thing about the record. The booklet contains the comments of Konrad Boehmer who is a composer and a professor of music. However, in his comments, he seems to be a little over the edge in criticizing Shostakovich by labelling him as a mediocre and solely communist composer. It can be true that the realities behind Shostakovich's actions and his seemingly support of Stalin were not apparent by the time due to cold war conditions. On the other hand, being a professor, Konrad Boehmer should have known better since Shostakovich himself was banned three times from composing music due to frictions between him and the politburo. Apart from the communist stand of Shostakovich, it is already evident that he is not mediocre in composing by any means.

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