Anton Webern (1883-1945)Variations for piano, Op. 27:
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111:
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)Tierkreis:
Brenno Ambrosini, piano.
Musicstry Studios. TRT® sound (calibration 2.4). Recorded: March 13, 14 2017. Released: January 23 2020. Photo: Natasha Lebedeva. Liner notes: Brenno Ambrosini, Javier Santos. Producer: Mario Martínez. PC17005 ℗ & © 2021 Play Classics.
The infinite journey
It is a story, that of life and death, that of Humanity, of each individual, of the Universe and of the Universes. Because, what is below is like what is above, and what is above is like what is below.
It is a journey, long and short because undertaken in time without time and space without space. A journey in which macrocosms and microcosms go parallel and merge. Are they the same?
Webern Op. 27 "Variations" put us in front of a sound mass and a perfect architecture that we have not assumed and strive to understand. The message that we perceive is something immense and overwhelming, and so inexplicable that it seems to us even chaotic. A Chaos that is really the sublime and rigorous exposition of the elements, both compressed and framed in a perfect form, mathematically and physically calculated, and flawlessly displayed in its purity and minimalism. Sounds, that is emotions, feelings, phrases in which all material and spiritual elements are condensed. The seed of life in pure state. The reduction to the essential of all factors, which we do not understand because we do not tangibly perceive the atoms and molecules that are at the same time base and summary of life, pushes us to seek order and meaning in it, to seek Ordo ab Chao at the beginning of our journey with the pretension of structuring the sublime. Or create what we understand by life of the primitive elements of life.
The story, the journey, continues to penetrate the monument and beethovenian testament that is the Sonata Op. 111, the summum of architecture, and shows the power of Man. Yes, it is a fallacy the show of power, a lie that we believe. In Op. 111 the Ordo is only supposed by us, but already highly surpassed by the genius of Bonn. If the first movement is an act of force and almost rebellion of Man and Humanity, in it the form is destroyed in its foundation. The "Arietta" sweetly exposes the wise look towards the past, in a present that little by little already moves away from materiality in a process of spiritualization wandering between lines and notes in white armor. Memory of the birth, memory of the puberty and the adolescence of the loves, memory of the mature age in the third variation. Experience of a present that is ending and little by little it distances itself from the earthly to become a dialogue with itself, embracing the extremes of life, like the ends of the keyboard, and looking up. The same look upwards, with a bitter but happy smile, is what drives us upwards, always more, until the last remembrance of the subject. Until the end. Until the end of everything, or the beginning of everything, because everything is the same: nothing has been created or destroyed. Now we understand it, looking at it from there.
And we travel, high, and close to the stars. From above, Stockhausen through the "Tierkreis" takes us through the zodiac, through stars and galaxies. with sounds that summarize the human feeling and not. We feel small and big at the same time, because what is below is like what is above, and what is above is like what is below. We do not fear anymore, expert navigators, the primordial elements, those same ones that at the beginning of our trip had dazzled us for their infinite essentiality. In the skies air, water, fire and earth meet. The four elements together, and also the fifth. Is it us? Among so many sounds that remind us of those filtered by the amniotic fluid, the latter asks us: "are you ready now to start again?"
And the trip continues, cyclically, to spiral form. A circle that expands and never ends...
...to my father
Chaos under heaven
Let's not be afraid: ... the planets also collide, and from the chaos, the stars are born.
Quite a lot has been written about the meaning and influence of the Second Vienna School on the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, on whose shadow much of that made since its inception continues to be traced.
In spite of this, the legacy of its three greatest exponents, Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, suffers a systematic exile from concert halls and its diffusion, which hardly transcends the framework of theory and study, is limited to little more than the radio of action of recordings, that is, to the private sphere.
It is not because the creative process is aesthetically complex for an unfamiliar audience, and the group of works that are still programmed with a minimum of guarantees of success usually show preference for the still tonal works of their authors such as the "Gurrelieder" or "Pelleas und Melisande" by Schoenberg, the concert "To the memory of an Angel" by Alban Berg or the "Passacaglia" by Webern, to give some examples, this last author being the most punished of the three for being the most "radical", that is, to develop the foundations of his group to the ultimate consequences. And in contemporary music festivals it is not that they are given special attention because, it must be said, they are considered classics at this point.
But the vital philosophy of these authors and their aesthetic and ideological commitments in times as convulsive as they suffered make them characters of marked romantic character and their works, if we decontextualize them from the compositional technique and the historical moment in which they were conceived, romantic . The intrinsic romanticism that dominates them and their undisguised debt to their main source of inspiration, German music, matches for the moment two of the works recorded in the present album, "Variations Op. 27" by Webern and Op. 111 by Beethoven.
The Op. 27 of Anton Webern, one of his most representative works, follows the postulates of dodecaphonic writing to the letter. Hard and difficult work, it may seem dominated by chaos, but under that prism we find mathematical symmetries and order of incredible inspiration that almost remember Bach in his masterful way of reconciling science and art. It is in that order within the chaos that we find in the "Variations" a seemingly informative material but whose logical structure seems to lead to a big bang in the first movement of the central work of the recital by the pianist Brenno Ambrosini in question, the Sonata Op. 111 by Beethoven, which serves, along with the rest of the works, to form a compositional triptych in which the points of departure and arrival almost become the same.
The figure of the genius of Bonn does not need to be claimed, but his legacy, even after a couple of centuries, remains quite misunderstood. Finished about five years before his death and practically isolated because of deafness, his last sonata explores formal paths and spiritual worlds accessible only to his author, so the thoughtful analyzes that have been made of it have not been able to penetrate the threshold of the mere subjective interpretation of the intellectual on duty.
It is objective that the initial "Allegro", the only movement of the two that does not completely shake the formal inheritance, has an emotional duality that confuses and almost hurts. It is unstable from the interval that opens it, and the sensation of chaos returns to settle in the soul of the listener with greater intensity almost than in the previous work, reaffirming the elements in which a dramatic ... apparent fragility is sustained. But Beethoven, in need of recapitulating all his life trajectory in a work and in a form that is especially dear to him, uses it to be transported to the very origin of it, which is what the last measures of this movement end in, to his own birth , identifying with this the beginning the variations of the second movement.
The progressions (as Claude Rostand called them) to which the "Arietta" is subjected in C major overfly his own childhood and adolescence and go through the different stages of his live until they reach an old age that is not the end in itself. The Sonata as structure closes an insurmountable cycle, but the strength of its genius uses its last variations to get away from the world that always came small, that neither understood nor wanted to understand, and that personally so badly treated him, and take him to the origin and the only place he should never have left, to heaven.
Already in the sky and among the stars, Ambrosini concludes with the work "Zodiac" (Tierkreis) by the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. The thread of argument finds in this representative work of the author from the school of Darmstadt, in turn debtor of the work and postulates of Schoenberg and his Modern School of Vienna and very significantly of the art of Anton Webern, an ideal end. The dodecaphonic system, its corresponding expansion towards serialism and the new contemporary compositional techniques, had in the composers of Darmstadt and particularly in Stockhausen, great defenders and disseminators. "Tierkreis", a work of extreme concretion and initially conceived for a music box, associates in this case a melody to each sign of the Zodiac, following for this a strict serial technique applied to parameters different from purely melodic ones. The result again seems to be dominated by apparent chaos, but Stockhausen, as Webern did many years before in his "Variations" and Beethoven in his Op. 111, hides in him a mathematical and irresistible beauty.
The end result is therefore a journey through the extraordinary spiritual and creative power of Beethoven's genius, Ambrosini leaning for it in the generosity of Webern and Stockhausen, who provide the same starting point and arrival. A difficult, terrifying and ... exciting journey.
Liszt and Venice feature constantly in the work of this Italian pianist who was born in 1967 and who started studying the piano aged six, made his first public appearance aged eleven in Venice, the City of the Water, and was trained in the school of Liszt – the composer and performer of genius who wrote many of his works in Venice barely 100 meters from the very place of Ambrosini’s birth.
Ambrosini studied piano, organ, violin and composition with M.I. Biagi (school of Liszt), R. Cappello and U. Amendola. After graduating in Italy with maximum scores and cum laude he continued his studies with G. Oppitz in Munich (school of Liszt), M. de Silva-Telles in Paris and J. Soriano in Madrid where he graduated with honours. He is currently working on his doctorate in Ethics and Politics in Universitat Jaume I in Castellón, Spain.
Many times acclaimed for his interpretation and performances as full of colour and with moments of great transcendental depth, critics have said: His Liszt sonata has been a sacred performance – a monumental interpretation (El País, Madrid - Spain) His symphonic piano style shone at every performance. (Westfälische Rundschau, Dortmund - Germany) The right choice, a pianist who is always elegant and refined. (Pianotime, Milan - Italy)
Winner at the XXXIV Concurso Internacional de Piano "Premio Jaén” and the "Rosa Sabater Prize" for the best performance of Spanish music in the same election. Ambrosini won the First Prize, the Debussy Prize and the Beethoven Prize in the International Piano Competition "Cidade do Porto". He was lauded in the X Concurso Internacional de Piano de Santander "Paloma O'Shea". He won Second Prize in the International Piano Competition "José Iturbi" of Valencia. He was awarded Second Prize and the "Golden Harp" in the International Concourse "Jeunesses Musicales" of Belgrade and won the “Piano Festival Alumni Prize” in the "William Kapell” International Piano Competition at College Park (Washington D.C., USA).
After his orchestral debut at the Liederhalle (Beethovensaal) of Stuttgart in 1986, Ambrosini has performed many concerts as soloist in cities in Europe, the USA and Japan accompanied by ensembles such as the Royal Orchestra of Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Belgrade, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the New Philharmonia of Japan and the Hermitage State Orchestra of St. Petersburg, performing with conductors such as M. Bamert, H. Vonk and A. Ros-Marbá.
Since 1990 Ambrosini has performed in duets with the Russian violinist M. Lubotsky and since 2000 with the Russian violinist I. Grubert. He also collaborates regularly with the Prazak and Brodsky string quartets.
Ambrosini has recorded CDs for Symphonia, Almaviva, ETG, Several and Dynamic record labels and has recorded for top European radio and television channels and for NHK of Japan. Special mention should be made of his collaboration with the Radio Clásica of Radio Nacional de España which has resulted in more than 350 recordings.
Composers such as H. Vartan, V. Suslin, R. Flender, F. Llácer-Pla, T. Catalán, C. Cruz de Castro, Z. de la Cruz, T. Marco, J. Jacinto, J. Medina, E. Calandín, J. M. Sánchez-Verdú, C. Maresca, A. Meoli and G. F. Prato have dedicated works to Ambrosini. He was first to perform works by composers such as A. Pärt, N. Roslawietz, S. Gubaidulina, S. Slonimsky, A. Bax, B. Britten and F. Delius in Spain. Special attention is due to his study of the works of Russian composer Alfred Schnittke: he has performed Schnittke’s works in Europe, Russia and Japan and has offered Schnittke Master Classes at London University and the Russische Musik Akademie de Dortmund. Ambrosini is honorary member of the Deutsche Alfred Schnittke Gesellschaft.
Professor of various piano skill development courses in Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom (Goldsmith’s College, University of London) and Poland, Ambrosini is tenured professor at the Conservatorio Superior of Castellón, where he leads the Artistic Deparment and International Relationships. Consultant (Master Professor of Piano) at the VIU – Valencia International University, Professor at the Alfred Schnittke Akademie International of Hamburg and serves as a Jury Member at important international piano competitions and as a Board member of the Franz Liszt Foundation (France). Actually, he leads a piano class at the International Conservatory “am Phoenixsee” in Dortmund (Germany) and he teach piano (Bachelor and Master) at the CSEMKG in Madrid.
In 2011, the year of Liszt, Ambrosini offered a series of recitals and performed with orchestras in Germany, France , Holland, Italy, Poland and Spain.
In 2012 he won the position as piano professor (bachelor and master) at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
He's member of the German Artists Association “Pegasus”, member of the Italian CSI, of the Club Renacimiento in Madrid and Knight Grand Commander of the “International Order Knight of the Thunderbolt”.