09 May 2007

Scelsi: Aion and Riti

Aion (1961): About eighteen minutes in four movements, the first a single-pitch oscillation dronw - a beautiful squawk at the beginning: is that a clarinet multiphonic? The second movement with a good deal of drums that interrupt a similar feel. The last movement a strange bagpipe-y drone complete with the tritone-to-fifth grace note figure and ending with a radiant chord in the upper partials of the fundamental. The orchestration is quite good, as per usual, and I'm struck by how "Hollywood" this all sounds - Hollywood in a modern sense particularly.

Riti: version for Achilles (1962): This is scored for four percussionists, apparently later versions were made for different ensembles, presumably taking the rhythmic framework as a scaffolding. It is an austere work, slow, stately, with a good use of membrane percussion. A microphone is supposed to be placed over the percussion which lends an "aura" to the piece which can be unsettlingly loud drone when it is on for some time. I'm curious to see how the other versions differ.

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