Luigi Nono’s original composition …..sofferte onde serene… for piano and tape (1975–77) is characterised by a complex organised agency of sonic echoes, shadows, anticipations, resonances, and sudden clearances. This agency – continuously varied and extremely flexible – unfolds on two planes: the live piano and the recorded tape. The presence and coexistence of these two dimensions are the first main feature of this composition. Both planes grow from the same basic material – which is treated differently, however. The conflation of the two planes results in processes of identity, difference, and repetition.
My orchestration and spatialisation of this work started with the clear separation of the two layers: the original piano part is transferred to the orchestra (onstage); three instrumental groups distributed in the space around the audience play the tape sounds. The orchestra and the groups play two different scores; the temporal coordination is controlled by specific musical clues.
The orchestration of the piano part is the result of many years of analytical work, including including intensive work with all the original sketches – as stored in the Archivio Luigi Nono in Venice. In this sense, orchestration is here understood as a further step in the analytical process.
The instrumentation and spatial distribution of the tape attempts to render, as well as is possible, the acoustic events of the original tape. Here, instrumentation is a concrete ‘sonic photography’ of electronic music.
While working on this orchestration, two pieces emerged repeatedly as important references: Nono’s Composizione per orchestra Nr. 2 – Diario polacco ’58 (1958–59), the first work in which Nono structurally used spatialisation; and Stockhausen’s Gruppen for three orchestras (1955–57).
This orchestration of …..sofferte onde serene… is dedicated to Giovanni Morelli.
Paulo de Assis, ‘Programme Note’