NEIL LEONARD – For Kounellis

Gasp

Neil Leonard: soprano saxophone, sound design, composition; Alessia De Capua: voice

It is heartwarming to find out that the small town of Montemarcello, Liguria, was the origin of this work’s sonic nucleus. As a matter of fact, that region’s area at the borders with Tuscany identifies an indefinite quantity of personal juvenile recollections from unforgettable summers. Leonard recorded there the sound of a sculpture by Jannis Kounellis, made of 23 church bells spiraling out of a cylindrical chamber in an environmental park. Their stretched reverberation gave birth to the fundamental substance of this piece, on which the composer worked for years before premiering it in a live performance on Mount Vesuvius, Naples’ volcanic icon. By adding De Capua’s ethereal vocalism and his own reed evolutions, Leonard managed to create a haunting environment where relatively adynamic components and shimmering vibrations contribute to a feeling of quiet enchantment not deprived of mysterious attractiveness. In general, a proper balance between the understandability of the overall design and a slight acoustic uneasiness – symbolized by the vacillating traits of the layered voices – was definitely achieved. Even without having attended the set I can state with a degree of certainty that For Kounellis constitutes the testimony of a riveting event that must have sprayed the audience’s members with unique energies.

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