Work of the week - Luigi Nono: Canti di vita e d'amore
It was the terror of Hiroshima which pushed Luigi Nono to write Canti di vita e d’amore in 1962. Now, this important work will be heard in the Festival d'Automne à Paris on 3 October in a performance by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Mikko Franck with soprano Anu Komsi and tenor Andrew Staples.
Nono’s work, bearing the subtitle "Sul Ponte di Hiroshima", is a clear statement of the political, critical and revolutionary commitment of his generation. The composition consists of three very different sections based on texts by philosopher Günther Anders and poems by Jesus Lopez Pacheco and Cesare Pavese. While the first movement, with its apocalyptical orchestral clusters, confronts the listener with Hiroshima's 200,000 dead, the unaccompanied soprano-solo in the second movement tenderly expresses the individual destiny of a tormented woman. Finally, the third movement provides utopic hope for human life after the terror of war with a setting of Pavese’s poem "Passerò per Piazza di Spagna".
…three situations of our time – closely connected – which have inspired me to these songs of "life and love". Love, not as abolition or escape from reality, but with full awareness of life. (Luigi Nono, 1975)
In 1963, composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann, a supporter and friend of Nono, wrote about the piece:
Why this piece, one would ask, why this Nono, one should wonder. Because these songs are Nono himself, in form and content a profound artistic statement of Nono as a human being – youthful, committed, revolting, fighting against the threats of war, standing up against inhumanity.
A series a five concerts in this year’s Festival d’Automne à Paris is dedicated to the great Italian composer Nono, each placing one of his works alongside the compositions of other composers. In one concert on 18 November, Karl Amadeus Hartmann's single-movement second Symphony Adagio will be performed by the SWR Symphonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg under the baton of Ingo Metzmacher.
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