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eight Preludes-Variations based on the carillon sonority
for piano solo
total duration: 30’ approx.
year of composition: 1981
I perf.: I serie, Grenoble, 3.6.1982 – pf: B. Canino
Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milano
available live CD recording
WORK REGISTERED AT SIAE (Italian Authors and Publishers Association)

Bruno Canino

Revenants  is one of many works prepared after the meditation, starting of work and the first writing out of an opera, on a dream-like subject, which was begun in 1976. His conviction that the linguistic characteristics of the most meaningful contemporary music would never be suited to use in the theatre (much less to the spaces provided by this centuries-old tradition),  led the author to compose this opera with the attitude of  dreamer. He took care, before-hand, of the subject and the libretto, both of which are original. It was as though he dreamt of writing in the same way in which a composer of the great operatic tradition would have written: but such writing and re-writing took place in a dream, with all the deformations that a dream creates. The use of simplified linguistic structures, the writing of a score for voice and piano, preceding the orchestral score, the recourse to melodic lines and harmonic forms of essential clarity all came not with the intention to unearth the past but of its dreamy emergence. If, furthermore, one adds that the subject and libretto deal with a phantasmagorical dream which concludes with the protagonist's suicide, during which act his ghostly formlessness and the fact that he is a mere character in the dream of another is revealed to the self-same, disconcerted protagonist; then the visionary nature of the work and its conception is made clear, as well as its extraneousness to any ideas of sterile recovery.

The preparation of a whole series of linguistic solutions designed to render the dream-like dimension of this opera (entitled Il luogo della mente) inevitably influenced the writing of the chamber-works which came after, which writing was provisionally supsended in 1980.

Revenants assumes as title a word encountered whilst reading Freuds book on 'dream interpretation', in which the author names certain recurrent dream-ghosts. Music which remembers itself in the aura of a dream is the ghost which floats soavely in the Otto Preludi (eight preludes) which constitute the cycle of Revenants. The sonority of the carillon seemed particularly suited to producing a dream-effect in music which is heardin a time and place which the season of infancy, covered as it is with tenacious oblivion, does not allow us to define precisely. Of an ancient event only the music connected with it emerges midst the flowing of the dream. The indescribable experience and unforgettable pathos of many is the eco of remote but known music which sallies forth cold, monotonous and most soavely miniaturised by the tiny cogwheels of the carillon.

This is not, therefore, an abstract instrumental contrivance,  in any case already attempted by Pick Mangiagalli (1882 - 1949), but soave musical thinking which enters into the sonority of dreams, in whose mood an event from the past, to which this piece alludes, is transformed into a haunting memory. It is also worth saying something about the techniques used in creating this rigorously non-tonal diatonism. Despite the use of densely chromatic writing, (almost every pitch in this piece is heard together with one of its chromatic complementaries) the sonority is, on the whole, diatonic. Within a given register, pitches that are have a diatonic relationship between them are made to come together, so 'harmonising'. Pitches that are have a chromatic relationship with these are pushed into other registers, so 'disharmonising' them. Thanks to this dislocation of registers it is possible to give incentive to the 'euphonic' dimension of diatonicity within a chromatic framework, and inhibit that 'cacophony' of chromaticism. One would underline, however, the fact that the harmonies thus created never contain the interval of the octave, which is rigorously absent.