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GIVING THE MUSIC FREDOM


Travelling, again to Sacile. A French composer of the Art Nouveau era, as often happens, has filled my life with years of study and research. One purpose in mind: to bring together as many as possible works for solo piano, rediscovering also the unpublished ones, in order to pay tribute to the musician, often forgotten, by means of recordings.
The great performers and orchestras always play the same works again and again: maybe it's a lack of knowledge of the maestros, perhaps they feel compelled to compete with them in a virtuoso duel on the same pieces, perhaps it’s a lack of time to be dedicated to the study of new programs, or perhaps it is the artistic directors of theaters who, afraid not to sell tickets, limit the classical repertoire to a few, certainly extraordinary, composers ... And the audience? The public, alas, is always the one who suffers from others’ decisions: the power of commerce and communication dominates everything.

But my attitude is serenity. Since several years I am no longer struggling with such commerce obligations. I am dedicated to my favorite repertoire by rediscovering unexpected "musical flowers" composed in an era where art, music, poetry, pursuit of beauty were an integral part of the artist’s work. But the artist's work is deep, exhausting; it often brings you painful moments, you in conflict with yourself, while the world does not understand it yet. Research takes you into the future, often to dissonances, to the assertion of rights or towards revolutions. Only time will give voice to the judgment of your creations…
I cannot keep from thinking of Germaine Tailleferre, obstinate and capricious woman: she wanted to succeed. A woman, just a woman, without right to vote, no right to compose: "... at most an educated woman can play piano in a living room; going around Europe to perform in concerts is already very little serious, not to mention writing then ... !" But how beautiful the Sonata for violin and piano, written in 1921, decidedly modern, nearly in competition with Ravel, ... as clever as she wanted to be. Then her "escape" to New York and her extraordinary life full of exceptional encounters, of compositions, but also films and music for a living, especially in less fortunate times…
Fortune ... I wonder if my recording of Aubert will be fortunate.
Aubert. Louis. A prodigy child, then isolated and forgotten in general oblivion. How difficult to force him into a record company: many did not know him, someone asked me whether we were talking of a Baroque music composer, a certain Jacques; very few remembered that this staid Breton composer had written marvelous pieces such as “Sillages”, descriptive to the unthinkable of his mind’s images.
It was so that, in order to be able to record all the piano works by Aubert, I was asked to record the complete work of the original pieces written for piano by Satie!
Here it was very different: the composer, who died almost unknown and without a penny, had been rediscovered in the 1960s by Cage and then, thanks to the huge effort by Ornella Volta, who had dedicated herself body and soul to this. Here the work was long, yes, but mostly to the purpose of giving a different view from the usual interpretation of his works: a thorough study of his life and his thought; the irony, poetry and tenderness of a man not able to live in accordance to the society’s dictates.
So, when recordings were over, I decided to pay him a tribute. A tribute which perhaps he would have appreciated, more than many recordings tied to pre-conceived interpretation dictates, far from his way of being ...
I used Vexations. Harassment, humiliation and suffering. Repeating the song, which indeed is nothing else than a bass repeated with two attunements, as he had written: that is, repeated 840 times at a slow pace! Thanks to this piece, Satie was defined as "the precursor of minimalism" ... Late, always late. Meanwhile he died alone, with his umbrellas, unique whim of his life.
As I said, I decided to pay homage not only by recording an entire disc with 42 executions of Vexations, so that the listener could listen twenty times to the CD and make himself an idea of the totality of work (i.e. approximately 24 hours), but I also made a painting and had hundreds of woven copies made of it. Then I carved them, "snipping " in the same identical position, and artistically re-sewed them, each in a slightly different way, as if every time the interpretation of the sheet music were slightly different, but always right ... I must admit I have not re-sewed all the 840 panels yet, but soon or later...

How many stories I found out, how many stories have come into my life! The poor Lili Boulanger, who died at the age of 25 in 1918, gifted with a refined talent, of whom I recorded a few pieces, or Poulenc, Ibert, Milhaud, young revolutionaries who tried to go beyond the boundaries explored by Debussy…
By him, the Master, genius of modern music, I recorded all the chamber music after performing in many concerts. Debussy. The driving force of research and of abandonment of respectability, nonconformist of classical harmony, but always to the pursuit of a poetic beauty. Unforgettable is the recording of the Cello and Piano Sonata, problems with gut strings ... the rehearsals with my friends Christian Bellisario, Massimo Marin, just to mention some.
But these are memories of youth. Since many years I have also been involved with contemporary art and tried not to get too involved with the biographies of my "found again composers" ... Of course, and meanwhile, by struggling to study the Art Nouveau history and the "Search of Lost Time", I find myself "captured" again by my sound engineers in Sacile. But this is the last trip dedicated to Reynaldo: we are about to complete editing of the recordings.
Since Eng. Paolo (1 ) had his Auditorium built, I always come over here to perform recordings. One day he had me find three magnificent grand pianos on stage ... I chose one: the richer in harmonics, the most engaging and fascinating; it had just been baptized by Ciccolini, "Mago Merlino". I chose it and also that room with a natural reverb. Suitable for my Art Nouveau music.

Yes, this time, compared to other compositions of the 1920s, 1930s ... I have come a little back in time. Reynaldo’s writing is certainly not avant-garde. Reynaldo H A H N. Difficult surname: I often have to spell it to make me understood.
A little Venezuelan, a little German, a lot French ... The king of the Parisian salons of the early twentieth century Tout Paris! Dear critics, what a "mistake" once again: it is not so. Reynaldo was all but superficial. Perfectionist, a scholar of art and precise in harmony, a tireless worker. Of course he was also a good manager of himself. He could conquer the audience and fill the theaters up, as when he was director of the Cannes Opera House, but in the piano pieces of the early years of the twentieth century, especially in the “Rossignol éperdu”, he used to compose with care and detail and, same as Claude Monet, he cared for nuances, light, impressions, while painting his canvases.

What moments of joy when I found, besides published music, several unpublished ... In recent years, considering the musical sheets unveiled in the United States and those found through Jean-Christophe (2), the treasure hunt has been very rewarding ... So much so that at one point the idea arose to create a documentary about Reynaldo. Not a biography, but a portrait of the personality of this artist who so far had been described superficially. The work is picking shape up, and thanks to Jean-Christophe’s meticulousness, a deep and human image of Reynaldo is being created: a scholar of arts, a skilled and inspired composer, a true beauty seeker.

Here is beauty once again: even Debussy was seeking beauty. But how different his research was ... it well maybe that after all every composer, like any artist, in his own way just wants to give music freedom.

Cristina Ariagno



1. Paolo Fazioli, president Fazioli pianoforti
2. Jean-Christophe Etienne, president Ass. Reynaldo Hahn di Parigi




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