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Luciano Berio: Agnus

  • for 2 sopranos, 3 clarinets (and electric organ)
  • Duration: 6’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    (+ electric organ)
  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Dedication: a Flora e Giorgio Bloch, affettuosamente
  • Commission: Commissioned by Ball State University

Work introduction

Berio’s music in general attempts to cover the wide expressive capabilities of the human voice; he once said that “we are used to considering it as an instrument which it is not; the human voice is simply a field of possibilities. In the last three centuries the human voice has been developed with the implied model usually being an instrument. The ideal model of a voice, if you want, is a clarinet”. Agnus is concerned within a very low dynamic, above a stable tempo and with an articulated drone on the B flat above middle C, with various ways of coming together and moving away, both as regards pitch and rhythmic alignment. In the last 15 bars the pitch range of the piece is heard at its maximum extension.

Michael Nyman


World première

Ball State University, Indiana (US)
Main soloists:
Scheurer und Olga Sambuco

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