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Scelsi: Natura Renovatur


Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 000668602   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giacinto Scelsi
Performer:  Frances-Marie Uitti
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCELSI Ave Maria. 1 Ygghur. 1 Alleluja . 1 Ohoi. Anâgâmin. Natura renovatur ? Frances-Marie Uitti (vc); 1 Christoph Poppen, cond; Munich CO ? ECM 1963 (52:06)


Giacinto Scelsi (1905?88) continues to receive a deluge of recordings, and Read more it seems justified, as he was ahead of the times in several ways. His music is deeply spritual, and influenced by Eastern mysticism, which sets him in tune with many New Age tendencies. His emphasis on sound for its own sake has made him important to a wide range of avant-garde composers, ranging from the French spectralists to the free improv and laptop electroacoustic scene. And the primal quality of his music?raw, chanting, heterophonic?places him as a progenitor of musicians drawn to non-Western, world-music practices.


After a nervous breakdown in the early 1950s, Scelsi gave up the hyper-romantic and aesthetic stance he?d begun with, and started to write for piano, based on improvisations. These works have never really appealed to me much, in part because they never sounded truly idiomatic to the instrument. But once he began to work with an early monophonic electronic device called the ondiola , transcribing the results (or more precisely having others do it, a point of some controversy?credit must be given to the composer?s longtime annotator/arranger Vieri Tossati), the true home for his vision emerged, i.e., the continuous, constantly ?morphable? sound of string instruments. This disc juxtaposes works for solo cello by Uitti, a longtime collaborator of the composer, with music for string chamber orchestra, and the mix works.


Uitti presents two sides of Scelsi in her half of the program. Ave Maria and Alleluja (both 1970) are somewhat atypical, as they are evocations of Catholic plainchant, monophonic, melodic, and repetitive. Ygghur dates from 1956?65, but is closely associated with Uitti, who collaborated with the composer in putting it into finished form, and received its dedication. It is the third part of a trilogy (and itself is in three movements) that Scelsi viewed as an abstract musical autobiography (called The Three Ages of Man ). This is more in the composer?s familiar style, as there is always some sort of pedal tone sounding with the web of sustained tones, glissandos, pizzicatos, and other microscopic inflections that make up the texture. Uitti makes the whole seamless both horizontally and vertically, and this feat strikes me as a technical and interpretive achievement that goes right to the heart of Scelsi?s achievement.


The three works for string orchestra are Ohoi (1966), Anâgâmin (1965), and Natura renovatur (1967), the former for 16 strings, the remaining two for 11. All three are cut from very similar cloth, and they range from a sort of delicately primitive lyricism to stark, almost terrifying outbursts. Ohoi and Natura renovatur are, in fact, reworkings of material from the composer?s third and fourth string quartets, respectively. One thing that emerges more clearly in these large ensemble works is the deeply tonal basis of Scelsi?s practice; while basically modal and centered on a single pitch in any particular section (from which filigrees of tiny events may grow), one hears clear harmonic direction and change, and at times the texture thins to reveal a glowing consonance that is all the more effective for its rarity?the conclusion of Natura renovatur is particularly powerful in this regard.


All the performances are excellent, and the sound is at ECM?s usual standard. Both Uitti and the pianist Herbert Henck provide notes that are refreshing for their clarity and refusal to engage in the usual sort of post-structuralist display one often encounters nowadays from European annotators. With Scelsi, like many recent composers, you?re going to have to accept some duplication? Anâgâmin and Natura renovatur are also on a Kairos release by Klangforum Wein conducted by Hans Zender, which I?ve not heard, but I suspect is similarly strong. What distinguishes this release, beyond the aforementioned strengths, is the clarity, focus, and imagination of the programming. For those familiar already with Scelsi, this release doesn?t have many surprises, but it is still highly recommended and, while a little specialized, it will serve as a great introduction for any wishing to enter his world.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Natura renovatur by Giacinto Scelsi
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; Italy 
2.
Ohoi by Giacinto Scelsi
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; Italy 
3.
Ave Maria by Giacinto Scelsi
Performer:  Frances-Marie Uitti (Cello)
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
4.
Anagamin by Giacinto Scelsi
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; Italy 
5.
Trilogia for Cello solo: Ygghur by Giacinto Scelsi
Performer:  Frances-Marie Uitti (Cello)
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961 
6.
Alleluja by Giacinto Scelsi
Performer:  Frances-Marie Uitti (Cello)
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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