Skip to content
Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2009 Una musica ad alta energia che esprime l’essenza delle emozioni
Una musica ad alta energia che esprime l’essenza delle emozioni PDF Print E-mail

by Marino Mora

Even the listener approaching for the very first time the extremely special music signed by Michael Nyman, needs only a few moments of contemplation to reach the composer’s same wavelength, as if attracted by a vortex of powerful beauty. The sound stands out because of the path it chooses: it is direct, limpid, its line is extremely precise, its flavour strong, and it flows over essential phraseological structures. Its gait, unusual in its rhythmic variations, is coherent and essential in its melodic structure. Nyman points directly to the heart of those who listen, enchanting their imagination. «My music», he explains, «is power, passion, pulse and pain… my sounds are born because of a mortal anguish, a musical anguish which is very personal... My compositions often inspire onirical, profound and unconscious images». For this music, “around” this music, Nyman has created his Michael Nyman Band, an extraordinary orchestra (or also known as the «noisiest street acoustic band ») that puts together strings, winds and piano. It presents rich timbric scenarios and a limpid, harsh sound, that could be defined “typically English”. During the performance we shall be surprised by the sound, made up of a dense and magmatic fabric, a piroclastic group of striking, powerful, insinuating melodies with a strong ad original rhythmical character. The listener will be nearly unaware, of the musical rapture in which he will be snatched. Music will capture him, will inebriate him while phrases repeat and intertwine as if they were recalling the clean cut and airy lines of Baroque music (one of the passions of Nyman as musicologist). As they condense one into the other, they create magnificent harmonic and melodic progressions. During their gait they grow and become more important, creating true cathedrals of sound, while harmony becomes transparent in the horizon, bodiless as a retractable shadow. The stylistic amalgam created is an successful example of synthesis between classicism and modern composition; jazz, pop, folk and minimalism put together. The collaboration with the English director Peter Greenaway has brought Nyman, in the field of soundtracks, to an historical union with extraordinary results. In the film The Draughtman's Contract (1982), music flows limpid and is pervaded by a sense of magic and arcane. In Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Sheperds, we are conquered by the rhythmical clearness of the main theme, that affirms its own unique form in the never-ending game of repetition in sequence. In Queen of the Night the gait of winds and strings creates the principal nucleus of the sound in the repetitive flow of harmonic progression. In the end, it creates an hypnotic effect and the listener looses his sense of reality in polling and screeching sounds. The bright mechanic musicality of An Eye for Optycal Theory illuminates the scene as a penetrating ray of light, then we remain enchanted by the power of sound, by the beauty of high notes and of Baroque splendour in Prospero’s Magic from the soundtrack of Prospero’s Books (1991). Again from Prospero’s Books, a movie dense of enchanted and raving themes, we cite the boiling and overwhelming Prospero’s Curse, the emotionally stirring Miranda, the wide, calm, bucolic Yellow Cornfields. But now we shall get to know one of the most important masterpieces of Nyman, the composition Memorial, used – after its first edition – also in the soundtrack of the movie The Cook, the Thief, his wife & her Lover, (1989): it was originally written with a touching, clean, emotionally awakening sound in memory of the dramatic events of Heysel Stadium in 1985. It is in fact a true Requiem, with its hammering introduction with palpitating characters and the main theme, sombre and circular, of epic accents, that proceeds drawing a solemn line, pushed on heavily by the obstinate insistence of low notes. About this composition Nyman said: «Memorial is an extremely special composition for me, very personal… a way to remember the absurd tragedy of that night… I consider Requiem masses as one of the highest expressions of music in relation to death during the past centuries…». Is it possible not to mention, looking at the remaining compositions, the soundtrack of Jane Campion's masterpiece, The Piano (1993), with the sweet ballad The heart asks the pleasure first, in which the piano draws delicate melodies inside the magical game of shining chords? Or again the pearly, almost Impressionistic Big My Secret and the rhythmical Silver Fingered Fling? Besides soundtracks, another of composer Nyman's passions has always been analyzing the style of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart 252 is the result of a research and elaboration of earlier works by Nyman inspired by the great Salzburgian composer. These works have been put together and designed to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in 2006. They are entirely arranged for orchestra, thanks to a Bbc request in 2006. Two main bodies of inspiration are presented in Mozart 252. The first is the soundtrack to the movie Drowning by Numbers (1988) by Peter Greenaway, an exploration of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic qualities that Nyman found extremely attractive in the slow movement of Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola K. 364. Greenaway had strictly wanted the soundtrack to derive entirely from  this score. The second is made up of the songs and duets of Letters, Riddles and Writs (1991), a Bbc Tv film which marked the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. In the end the result is extraordinary: the production, two years after the anniversary, of the Cd Mozart 252, rich in musical gems with extremely captivating titles such as In Re Don Giovanni and Revisiting The Don. Which music by Mozart has Nyman selected for his elaboration? Mozart appears to be modified by a filter of sheer rhythmical accents that Nyman imposes. These compositions are brilliant, rich in counterpoint, with a precise role given to each instrument, melody is transparent, the orchestration limpid, rational, mental, using the most coherent minimalistic technique. Structures are proposed again and again and developed in this repetition, as appears in In Re Don Giovanni, the concrete elaboration of Aria del Catalogo, part of the popular opera by Mozart. It gives us, in Nyman’s brilliant version, traits that Mozart probably would have liked: the characteristic of being uncatchable, the repetition of loving acts, of lightness, of extreme vacuity. These traits are very well evidenced by Nyman’s mechanic and assertive reinterpretation.