01 May 2007

Scelsi: Tre canti sacri; Kya

Tre canti sacri (1958): Three movements for choir on sacred fragments: "Angelus" "Requiem" and "Gloria" of the three "Angelus" is the least interesting. The other two make use of what would become typical ways of working for Scelsi - the oscillations around a particular interval - in "Requeim" F-C and the expansion over time to a particular interval, the fifth (B-F#), in the Gloria. Intervals chosen for the sacred connotations no doubt. Shows an awareness of the trends of the time in the choral klangfarbenmelodie as in Nono's recent choral works. Here the choir members are trading off melodies and interval oscillations which must contribute to making this extrememly difficult piece easier to perform. Powerful recording made by Neue Vokalsolisten. The "Gloria" also has a great dramatic arch and here Scelsi's works can really succeed in that he ties together the narrative arch of Romanticism with the sensitivity to timbre and harmony that he had in his earlier works.

Kya (1959): Again in three movements (someone must have told Scelsi to write three movement pieces at some point - I've done it too - they tend to be more lithe and less clunky than four movements), this is for C clarinet (a richer more klezmer sound) and seven instruments - english horn, bass clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, viola, cello). Beautiful and lyrical even with the limited accompaniment palette - primarily oscillating drones. The clarinet wanders about like Hariprasad Chaurasia, the drama builds in the third movement, but its not harsh. The instrumentation is particularly rich in partials. Very successful.

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