Boomkat Product Review:
Unmissable LCO recordings of works by radical and prescient 20th century genius Giacinto Scelsi; highlighting the pivotal Italian composer’s uncanny style of microtonal composition inspired by non-Western modes - a huge influence on Ennio Morricone, Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza and contemporary horror music!
One of the most fascinating, peerless, and yet unsung classical music pioneers of the last century, Scelsi is among the most enigmatic in his field. A wealthy aristocrat by birth, Scelsi was able to become a recluse and immerse himself in a singular world of sound during the early-mid 1900s, teaching himself how to play and compose in a totally ascetic yet ravishing style that lead him to discover, as New Yorker Magazine put it; “a world in one note”.
He attended Luigi Russolo’s Futurist ‘The Art of Noise’ concerts in Rome in the 20s, and later studied - but discarded - Schoenberg’s 12-tone serialism in favour of intuitively drawing upon his own senses and experiences of travel, from India to Nepal and Mexico, and eventually coming to distill myriad worldly philosophies and approaches with an intent focus on musical microtones in a way that has rarely been heard with such rigour and focus before or since his oeuvre in the Western canon, at least.
Scelsi’s work has previously inspired a number of LCO releases and commissions, notably and recently including scores such as ‘You Were Never Really Here’ (dir. Lynne Ramsay, 2017), ‘Alien: Covenant’ (dir. Ridley Scott, 2017) and ‘Suspiria’ (dir. Luca Guadagnino, 2018), and ever since his death in 1988 and subsequent re-discovery by waves of rapt followers, it’s not hard to hear how the unyielding tension of his music has come to suit the atmospheres of psychological thrillers and contemporary sci-fi.
On ‘String Trio’, the LCO’s Galya Bisengalieva (violin), Robert Ames (viola), and Max Ruisi (cello) perfectly articulate the unearthliness of Scelsi’s music in four parts that ideally display how he located an incredibly rich sensuousness in atonalities, and formed a vital bridge (even if it was a bit like the Vasari Corridor and only used by him until the late ‘80s!) between long-standing traditions of Eastern music and philosophy and their blinkered European classical counterparts.