Lecture – recital
Luciano Berio’s piano sonata: interpreting through the body
Most pianists have been trained to mainly work on classical, romantic and early twentieth-century music. Consequently, their musical imagination has been moulded by a language governed by tonal principles. Their comprehension of the form is also limited to shapes with a more or less directly perceivable syntax. It is therefore easy to imagine the difficulties they experience when facing a contemporary work. How can this repertoire be approached in an artistically gratifying way? So as to answer to this question, I have focused on a set of compositions. One of them is the subject of this lecture-recital: Luciano Berio’s piano sonata.
My artistic inquiry is conducted by reflection in and through practice. When practising, my main concern is obviously the translation of a score into sound. Since musical signs cannot convey precise instructions about all parameters of music, I continuously need to imagine and experiment many performance solutions. If this quest were not supported by some kind of analysis of the composition, it would happen at random and could be extremely time-consuming.
The objects of any analysis I perform while practising necessarily transcend the score. Indeed, I perceive a composition not only through the eyes, but also through the hearing and the body since I read the score, listen to the sound I produce and feel the movements I execute. From my perspective, musical signs, sound result and bodily gestures are different aspects of one and the same musical work. By creatively interpreting them, I draw inspiration so as to make performative choices and find clear points of reference even in contemporary language.
During the first part of my lecture-recital I will illustrate these principles by describing my interpretative process of Luciano Berio’s piano sonata. In this composition some passages draw my attention as they require the execution of a certain type of movements. As a matter of fact, in the moment they appear for the first time, these bodily gestures are different from and often contrasting with the ones preceding them. Furthermore, since I have already encountered them in many other compositions, they recall sound landscapes which can inspire the way I play. A closer look at the sonata reveals that these movements are not isolated events but evolve and interweave throughout the piece. They can thence influence small-scale as well as large-scale performative choices.
I will conclude by an execution of Luciano Berio’s sonata so as to show the artistic output of my inquiry.
Theme: ‘Towards Performance’
Length: 50 min. (25 min. presentation with musical examples + 25 min. performance)
KU Leuven publication type:
Symposium 'the performr's voice' edition:1 location:Yong Siew Tow Conservatory - Singapore date:29 October - 2 November 2009