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Luciano Berio: Ekphrasis

  • (Continuo II) (1996)
  • for orchestra
  • 4 2 5 3 - 6 4 4 2 - mar, hp, cel, acc, pno, sop.sax, alto sax, t.sax, str(12 12 12 10 8)
  • Duration: 20’
  • Instrumentation details:
    group A1: flute
    alto flute
    tenor saxophone in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    group A2: piccolo
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    clarinet in Eb
    soprano saxophone in Bb
    alto saxophone in Eb
    group B1: 1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    1st trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    bass tuba
    group B2: 1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    1st trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    bass tuba
    orchestra: 1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    3rd clarinet in Bb
    bass clarinet in Bb
    violin I
    violin II
  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Dedication: a Dario Del Corno
  • Remarks: the orchestra is divided into groups on different places in the room

Work introduction

Ekphrasis (continuo II) is a reserved and reflective commentary on an adagio which I wrote in 1990. It is a commentary on a continuous and ever changing soundscape formed from a lace of repeated patterns.

I had no intention of composing a musical metaphor for architecture while I was working on Continuo. Nor did I want to write a musical homage to the famous architects from Chicago such as Sullivan, Wright or Mies van der Rohe. Neither did I want to engineer any direct reference to the amusing yet reasonable constructions by Renzo Piano whose work I greatly admire. During the course of composition, however, I realized that this was exactly what happened. The musical processes within the fabric of Continuo do indeed have similarities to architectural principles, in abstract form if not in static shape. The musical patterns result in a completely impractical building with no doors and pathways. Its expressive attraction, nonetheless, lies in the contradiction of being thus uninhabitable yet open at any one time for alternative extensions by added new wings, rooms and windows.

Luciano Berio


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Las Palmas (ES)
Hessisches RSO
Luciano Berio

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