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Crumb – Makrokosmos I

Categories: Strumentale
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Published on: 23 August 2007

Un lavoro importante di Crumb sono i quattro libri del Makrokosmos (1972-1974). I primi due libri sono per pianoforte solo (amplificato), mentre il terzo (chiamato anche Music for a Summer Evening) è per due pianoforti e percussioni ed il quarto (noto anche con il titolo Celestial Mechanics) per pianoforte a quattro mani.
Il nome di questo ciclo allude ai sei libri pianistici del Microcosmos di Béla Bartók; come il lavoro di Bartók, il Makrokosmos è costituito da una serie di brevi pezzi dal carattere differenziato. Oltre a quella di Bartók, George Crumb ha riconosciuto in questo ciclo influenze di Claude Debussy, sebbene le tecniche compositive utilizzate siano molto differenti da quelle di entrambi gli autori citati. Il pianoforte viene amplificato e preparato sistemando vari oggetti sulle sue corde; in alcuni momenti il pianista deve cantare o gridare alcune parole mentre sta suonando.

Il primo libro, del 1972, ha come sottotitolo “Twelve fantasy pieces after the Zodiac” e infatti i movimenti sono ispirati ai segni zodiacali.

Qui ascoltiamo il primo movimento:
Primeval Sounds (Genesis I) Cancer [G.R.]
(per il significato delle iniziali, vedi le note dell’autore, qui sotto), eseguito da Margaret Leng.

Note di programma dell’autore / Author’s program notes:

The title and format of my Makrokosmos reflect my admiration for two great 20th-century composers of piano music — Béla Bartók and Claude Debussy. I was thinking, of course, of Bartók’s Mikrokosmos and Debussy’s 24 Preludes (a second zodiacal set, Makrokosmos, Volume II, was completed in 1973, thus forming a sequence of 24 “fantasy-pieces”). However, these are purely external associations, and I suspect that the “spiritual impulse” of my music is more akin to the darker side of Chopin, and even to the child-like fantasy of early Schumann.

And then there is always the question of the “larger world” of concepts and ideas which influence the evolution of a composer’s language. While composing Makrokosmos, I was aware of certain recurrent haunting images. At times quite vivid, at times vague and almost subliminal, these images seemed to coalesce around the following several ideas (given in no logical sequence, since there is none): the “magical properties” of music; the problem of the origin of evil; the “timelessness” of time; a sense of the profound ironies of life (so beautifully expressed in the music of Mozart and Mahler); the haunting words of Pascal: “Le silence éternel des espaces infinis m’effraie” (“The eternal silence of infinite space terrifies me”); and these few lines of Rilke: “Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit. Wir alle fallen. Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält” (“And in the nights the heavy earth is falling from all the stars down into loneliness. We are all falling. And yet there is One who holds this falling endlessly gently in his hands”).

Each of the twelve “fantasy-pieces” is associated with a different sign of the zodiac and with the initials of a person born under that sign. I had whimsically wanted to pose an “enigma” with these subscript initials; however, my perspicacious friends quickly identified the Aries of Spring-Fire as David Burge, and the Scorpio of The Phantom Gondolier as myself.

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