is a performance
in which all,
or nearly all,
the musical possibilities of an interpreter are explored.
Making music with the entire body.
with the voice.
which speaks, sings, screams,
manifestation of the most intimate
or confined within the instruments,
which are an extension
of the body itself.
Or extending its possibilities, playing other instruments or
multiplying them in a sonorous game of mirrors created
with the aid of technology.
Many composers of the 20th century have worked along the tenuous dividing line between music and theater. At times they have rigorously explored sound and its extreme possibilities, while at others they have utilized the instruments in unconventional ways, producing noises, indistinct and confused sounds, even inventing new sounds, creating sonorous gestures that are the expression of the most diverse emotions and often suggest a virtual theatricality of the performance.
Such is the case in Souffle by Goffredo Petrassi, Flèxions I by Henry Pousseur or Sequenza I (for flute) by Luciano Berio. This last work is the first in a long series of virtuosic pieces, each dedicated to a different instrument, which the composer himself defined as a “theater of vocal and instrumental gestures”, accompanied by “shades of meaning […] associations and conflicts which they themselves suggest.” And it is Sequenza III, dedicated to the voice, that eliminates any instrumental abstraction, allowing the theater to emerge unmediated.
This also holds true for works by other composers who have emblematically explored this interchange and fusion between music and theater. An example is Georges Aperghis, Greek composer active in Paris and the author of Récitations for solo voice, who demands that the interpreter be more an actor than a singer, using all possible means of expressivity of which the voice –that “extremely mobile instrument” (in the words of Castaldi) – is capable. Consider also the German composer Andrea von Ramm with her Atemsonate (Breath Sonata), a “classical” sonata in 5 movements that utilizes breath as the only material of sound; or Giacinto Scelsi who, in his CKCKC almost exclusively employs the sounds of consonants and asks the singer to accompany herself with a specially tuned mandolin resting on her knees.
In Rhymes for Gazzelloni, on the other hand, Yori Aki Matsudaira calls for the flutist to also play percussion instruments which are arranged on the stage to create a sonorous and physical itinerary.
In other cases, the motivation of the musical creation might derive from certain aspects of a musician’s craft, as in the wonderfully ironic Cardini 1973 by Paolo Castaldi, a parody of one of the most anti-musical practices to be taught in Italian conservatories: spoken solfège. In ?Corporel, Vinko Globokar instead explores the body of the musician himself, treating it as a musical instrument to be struck, stroked, touched, and played in every way possible, while Steve Reich multiplies the instrument by 11, requiring the flutist to prerecord 10 parts of the piece and interact with the recordings in a live performance.
Visual commentary is provided by slides illustrating the scores and texts of the compositions or images connected to them. Vermont Counterpoint by Steve Reich is accompanied by a video created by AGL, together with Valérie Bregaint.
Souffle is in constantly flux as AGL adds pieces drawn from the contemporary literature for solo flute (or instruments of the flute family) and for solo voice, and each performance is adapted to the place and occasion of the concert.