AI MARMI (2019)

AI MARMI (2019)

for solo violoncello

instrumentation: vc
duration: 4 minutes
première: June 6, 2019, Accademia Tedesca Roma Villa Massimo, Italy
Beate Altenburg – violoncello

AI MARMI

score preview

AI MARMI

(full recording)

Ensemble LUX:NM
Beate Altenburg – violoncello
(Hein Laabs – sound engineer)

Additional performances

April 29, 2020, LUX:NM – CHERRIES – Ten Years Jubilee, Berlin, Germany
Beate Altenburg – violoncello

VIDEO

AI MARMI: Full recording
April 29, 2020, LUX:NM – CHERRIES – Ten Years Jubilee
Beate Altenburg, violoncello
AI MARMI: Full recording
April 29, 2020, LUX:NM – CHERRIES – Ten Years Jubilee
Beate Altenburg, violoncello

ABOUT

“Ai marmi” (“at the marble”) is the name of a pizzeria in Rome where the patrons dine at marble tables. The piece was composed to farewell the long-standing director of the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome, Joachim Blüher, who had once invited me to dine with him at Ai marmi. He offered me a back-seat in his Vespa, but being acquainted with his style of driving, I opted instead to take the bus. AI MARMI, a miniature for solo cello, was written as a reaction to that situation. The piece unfolds as an interplay between distinct gestural ideas that converge at a particular formal focal point. On the one hand, there are arpeggiated chords, whose sequence of notes is variegated at times in more sedate tempi to give the impression of dynamically rising or falling melodic fragments. On the other, there is a sustained pitch with varying modulations, be they oscillating (trills) or continuous (running the gamut from vibrato to glissando, the latter at times with its own ‘sub-modulation’ in the form of a tremolo).

The opening, a rising series of strummed chords based on microtonally distorted fifths, followed by a sedate glissando in the mid-range of the instrument, gives way to a rapidly alternating presentation of these two elements, frequently blurring the lines between a chord that is variegated to a form a melodic fragment, and a snatch of melody fashioned from short, sustained pitches.

Large stretches of the latter two thirds of the piece are accompanied by a repeated plucking of the two lowest strings of the cello, a perfect fifth that functions both as a sort of stabilising bass drone, and as an equally stable ‘origin’ for the rising, arpeggiated chords that characterised the opening and reappear frequently throughout the piece.

Alwyn Tomas Westbrooke

AI MARMI (“at the marble”) is the name of a pizzeria in Rome, in which one dines at marble tables. The piece was composed to farewell the long-standing director of the Villa Massimo in Rome, Joachim Blüher, who had once invited me to dine with him at Ai marmi. He offered me a back-seat in his Vespa, but being acquainted with his style of driving, I opted instead to take the bus. AI MARMI, a miniature for solo cello, was written as a reaction to that situation. The piece unfolds as an interplay between distinct gestural ideas that converge at a particular formal focal point. On the one hand, there are arpeggiated chords, whose sequence of notes is variegated at times in more sedate tempi to give the impression of dynamically rising or falling melodic fragments. On the other, there is a sustained pitch with varying modulations, be they oscillating (trills) or continuous (running the gamut from vibrato to glissando, the latter at times with its own ‘sub-modulation’ in the form of a tremolo). The opening, a rising series of strummed chords based on microtonally distorted fifths, followed by a sedate glissando in the mid-range of the instrument, gives way to a rapidly alternating presentation of these two elements, frequently blurring the lines between a chord that is variegated to a form a melodic fragment, and a snatch of melody fashioned from short, sustained pitches.
Large stretches of the latter two thirds of the piece are accompanied by a repeated plucking of the two lowest strings of the cello, a perfect fifth that functions both as a sort of stabilising bass drone, and as an equally stable ‘origin’ for the rising, arpeggiated chords that characterised the opening and reappear frequently throughout the piece.

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