Girolamo Deraco: IndacoGirolamo Deraco: Indaco’Indaco’ (’Indigo’) is the title of contemporary Italian composer Girolamo Deraco’s CD album released in April, 2014. The piece was written for an instrumental ensemble. This musical material was performed now by the Italian trio Etymos Ensemble, with the composer himself giving short introductions before every movement. 

Girolamo Deraco did not only come for this premiere, he is also a member of the jury of the Opera Composer Competition. He is already well known to the audience of the Miskolc Opera Festival. Last year he was a contestant in the aforementioned competition, where he brought his eight-second (yes, eight-second) opera called Taci!, written for an orchestra and (not surprisingly) only one soloist, a soprano. Girolamo Deraco has already composed several works, including some (longer than eight seconds) operas, as well.

However, his new work premiered now is an instrumental piece written for a flute, a vibraphone and a clarinet. As we can read in the Programme the piece ’extends the musical view drawing the attention on visual aspect’, thus the musical gestures ’become theatrical action’. The audience also becomes part of the performance by watching it, or, as the composer himself writes on his homepage, it is ’a music that has to be listened with the eyes’. He defines this type of performing as Musictheatre, and this is the kind of theatre we got a taste of yesterday.

Girolamo DeracoGirolamo DeracoThe concert was held in the building of the Miskolc National Theatre, in a smaller hall. In his short introduction the composer reminded us that he is ’a living composer, which is already quite unusual in a classical concert…’. But as it turned out later, this was not the most unusual thing in this performance.

The concert hall only has a few rows, but even this small room was not full (although there was a free entrance). It is a pity, because those, who have come to this avantgarde performance, got a very interesting experience.

The musicians were playing almost totally in the dark, most of the time lit only by the light of their instruments. Because the instruments were in a blue-ish glow, and – as the composer explained to us – this blue was indigo blue, that is a colour of a transition between blue and purple. Just as their performance is a transition between music and theatre.

The members of the trio brought out the most of their instruments, the flute, the vibraphone and the clarinet. They do not only play on them in the traditional way, but with the help of different utensils – for example a violin bow – and their mouth they can skillfully produce peculiar sounds and colours, including pitches, that cannot be written down in the score. (Note: the vibraphone is about a hundred-year-old percussion instrument, which has tuned metal bars and is similar in shape to a xylophone.)

The piece consists of nine parts. We got a short explanation to all of them by the composer. For example, it turned out, that the first one is about a motionless sculpture, but the fact, that it has a meaning and a message, does make it to be ’in motion’. The next part was written in memory of a poet: the strange, knocking sounds we heard in this composition were created by the flute, which recalls the sounds of the poet’s type-writer. In the witty part (scene) called ’Game over’ the vibraphone ’plays’ the part of a gaming machine, while the clarinet ’impersonates’ the player himself.

Girolamo Deraco: IndacoGirolamo Deraco: IndacoThe music is really ’modern’: we heard atonal compositions not easy to digest for the audience. At the end of one of the parts the composer announced that the atonal parts are over, and its time for some folk music. Releived sighs could be heard from the audience, but the awaited ’folk song’ taxed our patience. It was really based on an Italian folk song, but the composer pulled it to pieces. Almost all single notes were played on different instruments and in an order totally different from the original, making the song unrecognizable for us. (In my opinion, the CD was probably made for promotion; I can hardly imagine people listening to it from their CD-recorder during dinner… One really has to watch it.)

Another special feature of the performance was, that the musicians did not use paper sheet music. They did have music stands in front of them, but there were tablets on them. They operated these with a pedal, so their hands remained free. They did not have to turn pages, it was easier for them to move, and they could even act, as well. (After the performance I took a closer look at those tablets: not only the score appears on them but the ’colours’ of each parts of the composition, too. So the screen is once yellow, then turns to green etc. Or indigo blue.)

Anyway, the charismatic yet humble composer did not really seem to be bothered that there were so few of us in the audience. He even told us at the end of the concert that they had got used to it. It is all the more interesting, since the performance of this exciting contemporary work requires exceptionally well-prepared musicians, who were playing and acting all evening as if they were taking part in the most important concert of their life. A very likeable attitude.

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Balázs Csák

(www.operaportal.hu)

 

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June 16, 2014, Miskolc National Theatre of Miskolc

 

Girolamo Deraco:

 

Indaco

Performed by the Etymos Ensemble: Francesco Gatti – flute/alto flute, Tony Capula – clarinet/bass clarinet, Matteo Cammisa – vibraphone, Alberto Gatti – sound engineer

 

 

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