Violin player and sound engineer at each other's mercy in unpredictable universe of sound

Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura

part of Luigi Nono: trilogy of the sublime

Irvine Arditti, André Richard

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As night falls over De Gashouder, Irvine Arditti and André Richard perform the dreamlike La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura for solo violin and tape. The title refers to a nostalgic hankering which offers limitless new possibilities. While Arditti plays his music from multiple music stands spread across the stage and the auditorium, Richard operates eight sound tracks with electronically processed recordings of violin improvisations by Gidon Kremer and a wide range of ambient sound recordings.
Programme Icoon

Background information

The trilogy of the sublime, three nights with the music of Luigi Nono, will be completed by a special late night concert of Nono's La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura from 1988. It's a composition for violin and tape, and one of the last works the Italian avant-garde composer created. The composition will be performed by violinist Irvine Arditti and sound director André Richard, former right hand man of the composer.

‘Caminantes, no hay caminos, hay que caminar’ (Travellers, there are no roads, there is just travelling') – this aphorism, which Luigi Nono found on a wall in a monastery in Toledo, was a source of inspiration for a number of the compositions he created in the later stages of his life, including La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura. Nono dedicated the work to fellow composer Salvatore Sciarrino, who explains the title as follows: 'The past reflected in the present (nostalgica) brings about a creative utopia (utopica), the desire for what is known becomes a vehicle for what will be possible (futura) through the medium of distance (lontananza).' The composition was created in collaboration with violinist Gideon Kremer – whom Nono met for the first time in 1987 – and had its world premiere on 3 September 1988 at the Berliner Festwochen.
Therefore, the full title of the piece became: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura, madrigale per più ‘caminantes’ con Gidon Kremer – The nostalgic-utopic future disance, madrigal for various travellers with Gideon Kremer – as Nono often wrote his later works with a specific musician in mind. The fellow traveller is, in this case, Irvine Arditti.
The final version of La lontananza is different from the version which was used for earlier performances. Nono rewrote the violin part and reviewed its relationship to the electronic component. The six parts for the violin are divided over six music stands, which are spread across the stage and the auditorium. The soloist walks, sometimes saunters, from one stand to the other to be able to play the next part. To create a sense of unpredictability, there are two to four empty music stands – the exact number is up to the soloist - which are placed among the other stands in the auditorium.
Nono has not written an easy score for the violinist, prescribing extremely dynamic instructions and forcing the musician to experiment with his tone continually and to convey an enormous range of sounds – the score for his part contains more instructions than notes.
While the violinist wanders between his notes, the engineer is operating the tape, which has been created from recordings of ambient sound and violin improvisations by Gideon Kremer, which Nono treated afterwards. One of the instructions for the sound director states that the different tracks should never be played all at once; on the other hand, silence from the electronic component is permitted. Although Nono has written all this down, the performance actually comes to life through the interaction between the violinist and the engineer, as both allow themselves to respond to the other. The violinist is not the soloist; both parties are equally important, together creating a spatial, typically Nono-esque experience of sound. 

 

Bographies

Luigi Nono (1924-1990) began taking lessons in composition from Gian Francesco Malipiero in 1941. Central to these lessons were works from the 16th and 17th century, which left him with a lifelong fascination for polyphony, and for the music of the Second Viennese School, which was banned in Fascist Italy. In acquiescence to the wishes of his family, he went to Padua to study law, graduating in 1946. Meeting Bruno Maderna and the conductor Hermann Scherchen only increased his fascination for the music of Webern and Schönberg, and in 1950 he participated for the first time in the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music. In the 1950s, he attended the courses in Darmstadt regularly, and between 1957 and 1960 also as a teacher; a number of his compositions had their premiere there. At a performance of Schönberg’s opera Moses und Aron in Hamburg, he met Schönberg’s daughter Nuria, whom he married in 1953. Nono joined the Communist Party in 1952 and a great many of his works have a political charge. As of 1960, he taught in Poland and the Soviet Union, among other places.
As his career progressed, he became increasingly interested in electronic music. Along with Boulez and Stockhausen, Nono is considered one of the most important representatives of the Darmstadt School, but unlike his two colleagues, he always took a great deal of freedom in applying the principles of serialism.

The violinist Irvine Arditti was born in London in 1953. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, started playing in the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and two years later, at the age of 25, became its concertmaster. In 1980, he left the orchestra in order to concentrate on the Arditti Quartet, which he had formed while still at school. Apart from his legendary career as first violinist of this quartet, Irvine Arditti has baptized a great number of solo works. He has presented the world premieres of many compositions written especially for him, including Iannis Xenakis’s Dox Orkh, Toshio Hosokawa’s Landscape III, both for violin and orchestra, as well as Brian Ferneyhough’s Terrain for violin and ensemble.
The violinist has performed with leading orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Paris, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Nieuw Ensemble and Oslo Sinfonietta. Many composers, in particular Ligeti and Dutilleux, have praised Arditti for his performances of their concerts.
Besides the more than 190 CDs that Irvine Arditti has recorded with the Arditti Quartet, the violinist also has made many recordings on his own. His recording of solo works by composers such as Carter, Estrada, Ferneyhough and Donatoni has won numerous prizes, as has his registration of Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura. Arditti’s CD of John Cage’s Freeman Etudes was received with the highest praise imaginable. July 2013 saw the publication of the book The Techniques of Violin Playing, written by Arditti and the composer Robert Platz.

André Richard is a Swiss conductor, composer and performer of live electronic music. He studied singing, music theory and composition in Geneva, and later with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg. He advanced his studies in electronic music with Hans Peter Haller at the SWR Experimental Studios in Freiburg and at IRCAM in Paris. His works have been performed at international music festivals in Budapest, Frankfurt, Oslo, Essen and many more. As well as teaching in Geneva and Freiburg he was also for a long time the Head of the Freiburg Institute for New Music and the organiser of the concert series Horizonte. From 1984 until 2005 he was artistic leader of the Freiburg Solo Choir. In the 1980's Richard collaborated closely with Luigi Nono as a conductor and sound director on the performances of his later works. As a conductor Richard has performed at international festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, the Festival d’Avignon and the Holland Festival. From 1989 to 2005 he was the artistic director of the Experimentalstudio of the SWR's Heinrich-Strobel Foundation.
For the Salzburg Festival Richard has contributed to a great many legendary performances, including Nono's Prometeo in 1993, for which he realised the spatial sound concept and acted as sound director.
Later productions he was artistically involved in were Lachenmann's Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (2002) and two works by Stockhausen. With Irvine Arditti he opened the Venice Biennial in October 2013 performing Sockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett, In the course of his career Richard has received many prizes.

 

Credits

performed by
Irvine Arditti, violin
spatial sound concept, sound direction
André Richard

‘La lontananza is in many ways the quintessential expression of Nono’s brilliance.’ – musicweb-international.com