GIACINTO SCELSI – Giacinto Scelsi 9: The Viola Works


“Music does not need an explanation: neither through images, nor through any numbers. In my opinion, pure technical explanations or descriptions are boring for an audience”. Giacinto Scelsi’s sentence from a 1984 interview with Wilfried Brennecke – besides throwing a heavy gravestone upon all the residual hopes of us reviewers – synthesizes what is possibly the only existential truth that you’ll ever experience, provided that the necessary interior gifts are present: namely, that sound furnishes everything a being needs. This CD comprises compositions ranging from 1955’s “Coelocanth” to 1964’s “Xynobis”, masterfully performed by violist Vincent Royer and – in “Elegia Per Ty” – cellist Séverine Ballon. Scelsi used to leave a great amount of interpretative liberty to those who attempted to convert his perceptions; the constant opposition to identifying himself as a “composer” is just one of the distinctive traits of a personality that challenges temporal collocations and inflexible definitions.

Sound is a physical entity whose transmission has been continuing forever, defining quite clearly – without the aid of words – both apparently unachievable transcendence and cold concreteness. The energy utilized each day to carry on, the objective of most humans’ search for “enlightenment”, the final stop of the quest for the “divine” are right there; but, unavoidably, not for everybody. It takes musicians with powerful aerials and highly developed technique to translate sheer intuitions – a drawing, a jotted line of writing – into acoustic materials that push a sympathetic listener to advanced levels of awareness. The oscillating single pitches typifying “Xynobis” draw a mental setting between poise and daydream that, beyond the “inside of sound” depiction provided by their instigator, is difficult to get in touch with via other means. The virtuosity of the “Three Studies” is not based on practices destined to showcase the player’s ego; on the contrary, it is indispensable for this type of connection. Like the large part of Giacinto Scelsi’s opus, The Viola Works reveals infinitesimal openings towards a whole universe of unreachable states, places where understanding what’s going on is next to impossible. Yet the inexplicable private quietude deriving from the surrounding combinations of tones is something that we wish to preserve.

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