Alberto, you enjoy creating cycles that are connected to one another, yet also capable of being performed independently. We’ve already had the chance of discussing with you this particular feature of your musical catalogue, but we have not asked you how and when you believe a cycle is completed? Is this something that is decided from the very beginning or does it gradually appear during the composition process?
Each cycle I have composed is a particular case, but in general I believe a cycle is completed once I have the idea of the whole project in mind, which is something I try to have clear enough before writing the first bar of the first piece. I have the need to control almost everything beforehand. To compose a cycle is not to compose several pieces to be performed one after the other. For me it is essential to build the relationships between the pieces and the timing required to develop them in advance. This is why I invest a lot of time planning the whole project before writing the scores.
Anyway the writing process is a time to refine and sometimes also redefine the ideas, and to face the inner conflicts tied to every work. Some aspects are reshaped or modified when the abstract idea is embodied in the score. I’m open to discover something new during the writing of each single piece, but most of the time (with some exceptions) the original idea is not dramatically modified, but implemented.
For instance from the very beginning I wanted to relate the last piece of Poética del espacio to the outer space, and a few weeks before starting to write this piece the first photograph of a black hole was published. Then I paid more attention to these phenomenon and I learnt some things that I found useful for implementing treatments of the musical material. This was not planned from the beginning, but came up during the compositional process.
What elements unite the four works of the cycle Poetica del Espacio? And inversely, what elements set apart the works and highlight their individuality?
The driving force uniting the pieces is how experiencing the space during the listening process has intrinsically a poetic dimension.
In a way, the space always imposes something to the listening. For instance the reverberation of the hall can change substantially the perception of the work or even its performance. But in this case the space is an external factor, not related to the piece itself. In Poética del espacio I was more interested on using the space as a composition parameter and as a mean of proposing different approaches to experience the space through the sound.. From these approaches, which are clearly differentiated in each piece, emerge their individuality. The evolving location of the musicians in the hall throught the cycle also contributes to highlight this individuality, since these locations have also shaped the internal struture of the pieces, besides it creates different spatial layouts.
Could you explain to us the inner-workings of the cycle? How does the dramaturgical structure evolve from the first work to the last? How does the cycle’s complete performance, first heard this year at the Donaueschinger Musiktage, reveal echoes, relations, contrasts, and even oppositions that cannot be heard in each individual work?
The dramaturgical structure evolves from the explicit experience of the sound motion towards the poetic charge of the experience sensed. In the two first pieces the sound displacement, which is perceptible in a very explicit way, shapes the form, the material and its time evolution. In contrast in the third piece we start to approach a territory of intuition, where a different sound world emerges from the transformation of the inner acoustic space of some instruments. Lastly in the last piece we can virtually inhabit a world constructed in parallel to some phenomenons of the outer space that we can not experience in the reality.
But there is another dramaturgical layer created by the four Intermezzi interpolated between the pieces, based on a physical exploration of space as the performers, who were initially located in different places of the hall, inexorably converge upon the stage.
Contrast is a fundamental pillar to create these dramaturgical aspects. Contrast in terms of instrumental make up, location of the musicians in the hall, motion of the sound or of the performers, musical materials, concept and treatment of the ensemble, etc.
But since we have a cycle of pieces, nexus, recalls and anticipations create connections for the memory. Materials, evolutions, even harmonic structures of the first piece reappear until the end of the cycle. Always transmuted and with a different function, always creating bridges that lead to a different place.
Photo : © Harald Hoffmann