Nono: Prometeo, Tragedia dell’ascolto

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LABELS: Col legno
WORKS: Prometeo, Tragedia dell’ascolto
PERFORMER: Soloists; Solistenchor Freiburg; Ensemble Recherche; Soloist Ensemble of Freiburg PO; Soloists of SWR SO Baden-Baden and Freiburg; Experimental Studio of Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung SWR, Freiburg/Peter Hirsch, Kwamé Ryan


Prometeo was Nono’s major work of the early 1980s – a ‘tragedy of listening’, as he called it, embodying a grand survey of cultural history, and taking in textual sources that range from Aeschylus and Hesiod on the one hand, to Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin on the other. In an interview with his co-librettist Massimo Cacciari, Nono once spoke of the multidirectional quality of the everyday sounds he heard in his native Venice – a city that has a long tradition of spatial music (just think of Giovanni Gabrieli and his cori spezzati inspired by the architecture of St Mark’s). The spatial element of Prometeo, with its four instrumental groups and ‘live’ electronics, is of utmost importance; and although the stereo version of this recording gives a reasonable illusion of depth, the music makes far more impact in surround-sound, especially if you sit closer than usual to the rear speakers. The premiere of Prometeo was given in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice, but Nono subsequently revised the score using the facilities of Southwest German Radio’s experimental studio, where he realised most of his late scores. Some of his faithful collaborators were involved in this CD recreation, which provides an authoritative and valuable document. The unvaryingly static nature of Nono’s choral writing makes it perhaps best appreciated in small doses. Misha Donat