H&N 7.01.2012 Luciano Berio's Sinfonia
An intriguing work, which I have listened to a few times, but will have to listen some more. Serialism brought down to earth? For once Gillian Moore's commentary was not overblown, at least not more than Berio's original intentions.
Au contraire, mon frere! - the 12-note series permeates movements 1, 2 and 4, and can be heard, quite audibly unfolding, as the name of Martin Luther King slowly unfurls in the second movement, eventually culminating in the ingeniously voiced 12-note chord which haunts the harmony of movement 4... and imo should be everyone's answer to the accusation that 12-tone music is incapable of anything other than ugliness.
Originally Posted by Oddball
I didn't, as happens, hear this programme, and of course movementy 3, for which the Sinfonia has become iconic of its time, does forsake the serial substructure, (unless it is deeply buried). Not all of Berio's works of around this time used serial techniques - the famous Folk Songs of 1963 or 4 being an obvious example - but as far as I know most of this composer's large or largish-scaled pieces thereafter did use his own adaptation of its methods.
To avoid controversy, I'll refrain from giving an opinion as to whether or not this work is still of its time.
Which work isn't of its time, though? I think it's a wonderful score, for me as fresh and magical in its sounds and structures as the first time I heard it (late 70s) and much 'newer' than most recent Proms commissions.
Originally Posted by Serial_Apologist
A problem I have with getting a grip on contemporary music is the immense variety of types of music and innumerable composers doing their own thing - like walking around a huge garden and trying to familiarise with all the plants. 19th Century music in contrast is fairly homogeneous, and there is not the same problem.
Berio rates just a couple of Paragraphs in the much-criticised book "The Rest is Noise". However I have just located an audio file version of the book available on the web, which is far more digestible: