Luciano Berio: Chemins II

Luciano Berio Chemins II
Chemins II

Luciano Berio: Chemins II

Year of composition:
(su Sequenza VI)
Scored for:
for viola and 9 instruments
Luciano Berio
fl, cl(Bb), tbn, perc(2), hp,, vla, vc
Instrumentation details:
clarinet in Bb
electric organ
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Chemins II

Work introduction

The best way to analyse and comment on a musical work is to write another one using materials from the original work: a creative exploration of a composition is at the same time an analysis, a commentary and an extension of the original. The most profitable commentary on a symphony or an opera has always been another symphony or another opera. This is why my Chemins, where I quote, translate, expand and transcribe my Sequenzas for solo instrument, are also the Sequenzas’ best analyses. They are a series of specific commentaries which include, almost intact, the object and subject of the commentary. The Chemins are not the displacement of an objet trouvé into a different context or the orchestral “dressing up” of a solo piece (the original Sequenza), but rather a commentary organically tied to it and generated by it. The instrumental ensemble brings to the surface and develops musical processes that are hidden and compressed in the solo part, amplifying every aspect, including the temporal one: at times the roles are inverted so that the solo part appears to be generated by its own commentary.

Why this insistence on elaborating and transforming again the same material? It is, maybe, a tribute to the belief that a thing done is never finished. Even the “completed” work is the ritual and the commentary of something which preceded it, of something which will follow it, as a question that does not provoke an answer but a commentary, and another question...

Chemins II, for viola and nine instruments, was written in 1967 for Walter Trampler. From that work other “solutions” were later developed: Chemins IIb for orchestra (1970) and Chemins IIc for bass clarinet and orchestra (1972). These three Chemins are related to each other something like the layers of an onion: distinct, separate, yet intimately contoured on each other; each new layer creates a new, though related surface, and each older layer assumes a new function as soon as it is covered. Chemins IIc is the farthest layer from the original model. I developed in it a virtual melody which was implied in Chemins II, integrating and superimposing the bass clarinet as a soloist.

Luciano Berio

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