Marin Alsop conducts Berio’s Sinfonia

Reading time: 2 min. Luciano Berio

Erica Jeal of The Guardian reviews Friday night’s performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia at the Royal Festival Hall. Marin Alsop conducted the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and The Swingle Singers:

“Alsop recharged that glow here. Directing the orchestra plus the eight amplified members of the Swingle Singers, the vocal ensemble for whom Sinfonia was written, she was rock steady, absolutely in control. The piece sounded electrifying – often haunting, crazy at times, but never cacophonous. Its fulcrum is its third movement, a vast collage of speech, singing and many, many orchestral quotations: it is as if Berio is throwing everything he can think of against the wall to see what will stick.”

Read the full review on The Guardian.

Berio on Sinfonia:

“The title of Sinfonia (composed in 1968 for the 125th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra) is not meant to suggest any analogy with the classical symphonic form. It is intended more etymologically: the simultaneous sound of various parts, here eight voices and instruments. Or it may be taken in a more general sense as the interplay of a variety of things, situations and meanings. Indeed, the musical development of Sinfonia is constantly and strongly conditioned by the search for balance, often an identity between voices and instruments; between the spoken or the sung word and the sound structure as a whole. This is why the perception and intelligibility of the text are never taken as read, but on the contrary are integrally related to the composition. Thus, the various degrees of intelligibility of the text along with the hearer’s experience of almost failing to understand, must be seen to be essential to the very nature of the musical process.”

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