Friday, 7 April 2017

Luigi Nono - La Lontananza..... / Hay que caminar (rel. 1992)

Luigi Nono's final works before his death in 1990, these two epic violin workouts certainly aren't easy listening, but they're a uniquely rewarding experience to get lost in - ideally on headphones in a dark room.  Roughly translating as 'Nostalgia for a future utopia, viewed at a distance' (one of many renderings out there!), the 40-minute main work here was constructed by Nono, Gidon Kremer and Sofia Gubaidulina onto eight tapes in 1988 with the live solo part written the following year.  In performance, the soloist is instructed to walk between several different music stands in the performance space, playing against the tapes.

On an album, we obviously lose that theatrical element, but Lontananza is still a striking listening experience.  Waves of howling violin overdubs drift around like ghost trains passing in some vast abandoned station. Periodically a mournful or shrieking solo part will tell it's story centre stage, like a passenger emerging from the train.  Ambient sounds from the recording process were added to the tapes, enhancing the otherwordly atmosphere with occasional creaks, clicks and fragments of conversation.

Straight afterwards on this disc, there's a 20-minute epilogue-dialogue for the final two ghosts left on the platform - may as well extend the metaphor as "Hay que caminar" Soñando inhabits a similar sonic space.  Gidon Kremer and Tatiana Grindenko frequently play extremely high frequenices as if the two voices are crying out to each other, and at other times having a spirited, bruising conversation as they navigate their way through the piece.  The title of this work came from a motto that Nono had seen on the walls of a Spanish monastery: "there is no way to travel, there is only the journey" - ideal words to have in mind when digesting a great, unique album like this.

La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura

alt. link (zippy)
Previously posted at SGTG: Tape works


  1. From don Antonio Machado ; )

    "Walker, your footsteps
    are the road, and nothing more.

    Walker, there is no road,
    the road is made by walking.

    Walking you make the road,
    and turning to look behind
    you see the path you never
    again will step upon.

    Walker, there is no road,
    only foam trails on the sea."

    "Walker" by Antonio Machado, from Border of a Dream: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado, edited and translated from the Spanish by Willis Barnstone. © Copper Canyon Press, 2003.

    1. Fantastic stuff, many thanks for sharing!

  2. Many thanks for Luigi Nono my friend. Great, fascinating material in your blog.