03 May 2007

Scelsi: Coelocanth and Ho

Coelocanth (for viola) (1955): A twittering work for solo viola, more in line with the divertimenti than the future so-called "one-note" pieces. The viola flutters around a good deal often in what seems like its higher range.

Ho "Five Songs" (1960): For unaccompanied female voice, this uses again only vowels, "gh," "l" and the like. Scelsi was probably quite interested in the sense of the ecstatic with these songs. The first is a centering piece, focusing solely on the pitch F, quarter-tone inflections of it and the seventh degree. The second opens up to explore a chord-area on B, (Interestingly the same pitches as the opening of the quattro pezzi for orchestra). We then take the opening as if putting the singer into a trance who then can bring forth the Scelsi as instrument for revelation. There is probably one too many, though the fifth is quite nice, focusing as it does on a high-G coming back to the low B-F.

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