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Vox Balenae

Categories: Strumentale
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Published on: 17 December 2006

balenaUn brano acquatico ed evocativo questo Vox Balenae composto nel 1971 da George Crumb per flauto, violoncello e piano, tutti amplificati (non c’è trattamento audio; ci si limita all’amplificazione).
Ispirato a una registrazione di canti delle balene, il brano imita e trasfigura i suoni della natura, che divantano materiale da elaborare musicalmente.
C’è anche un aspetto teatrale: i musicisti devono indossare una maschera intesa a cancellare la loro umanità per portarli a impersonare le forze della natura. Inoltre, l’esecuzione dovrebbe avvenire in luce blu.
Di questa composizione Crumb dice:

The form of Vox Balenae (Voice of the Whale) is a simple three-part design, consisting of a prologue, a set of variations named after the geological eras, and an epilogue.
The opening Vocalise (marked in the score: “wildly fantastic, grotesque”) is a kind of cadenza for the flutist, who simultaneously plays his instrument and sings into it. This combination of instrumental and vocal sound produces an eerie, surreal timbre, not unlike the sounds of the humpback whale. The conclusion of the cadenza is announced by a parody of the opening measures of Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra.
The Sea-Theme (“solemn, with calm majesty”) is presented by the cello (in harmonics), accompanied by dark, fateful chords of strummed piano strings. The following sequence of variations begins with the haunting sea-gull cries of the Archezoic (“timeless, inchoate”) and, gradually increasing in intensity, reaches a strident climax in the Cenozoic (“dramatic, with a feeling of destiny”). The emergence of man in the Cenozoic era is symbolized by a partial restatement of the Zarathustra reference.
The concluding Sea-Nocturne (“serene, pure, transfigured”) is an elaboration of the Sea-Theme. The piece is couched in the “luminous” tonality of B major and there are shimmering sounds of antique cymbals (played alternately by the cellist and flutist). In composing the Sea-Nocturne I wanted to suggest “a larger rhythm of nature” and a sense of suspension in time. The concluding gesture of the work is a gradually dying series of repetitions of a 10-note figure. In concert performance, the last figure is to be played “in pantomime” (to suggest a diminuendo beyond the threshold of hearing!); for recorded performances, the figure is played as a “fade-out”.

Geroge Crumb – Vox Balenae (1971) per flauto, violoncello e piano, tutti amplificati.

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