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Luciano Berio: Canticum novissimi testamenti

  • Ballata (1989-1991)
  • for 4 clarinets, saxophone quartet and 8 voices
  • cl(Eb), 2 cl(Bb), bass cl(Bb), sop.sax, alto sax, t.sax, bar.sax
  • Duration: 23’
  • Instrumentation details:
    cl(Eb), 2 cl(Bb), bass cl(Bb), soprano sax(Bb), alto sax(Eb), tenor sax(Bb), bar.sax(Eb)
  • Choir: 2S, 2A, 2T, 2B
  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Text author: Edoardo Sanguineti
  • Original language: Italian
  • Translator: Birgid Schlichting
  • Dedication: a Massimo Mila in memoriam

Work introduction

As with a number of his other compositions (e.g. Passaggio, Aronne, Calmo), Berio was inspired by a poem by Edoardo Sanguineti (1930-2010). Berio was fascinated by what he saw as its “echo-chamber of memory, where aspects of the mundane, the universal, the banal and the speculative, the personal and the poetic all meld in a strict and sometimes unsparing construction.”

The result is a unique piece of music, a strange, highly original world shaped by Berio’s imagination and enriched with recollections of ancient Italian literary and musical genres, including Monteverdi’s.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Paris (FR)
Ensemble Intercontemporain
Pierre Boulez
Main soloists:
Raschèr Saxophone Quartet

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