Ivan Fedele: Musica della luce (YAN.002)

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Ivan Fedele
Musica della luce

Pascale Berthelot piano
Recorded in 2012 by Gérard de Haro at Studios La Buissonne
Edited, mixed, and mastered by Nicolas Baillard
Steinway prepared by Alain Massonneau
Produced by Marc Thouvenot & La Buissonne
Release date: November 19, 2013

The pianistic literature of Ivan Fedele is the subject of this recital by Pascale Berthelot, which follows her CUICATL debut. The program opens with the Italian composer’s Études boréales (1990). Meant to evoke the icy climate of Finland, it requires the performer to dig into the keyboard like a mountain climber might ascend by means of a pick. Such sharp attacks are resolutely luminescent, while the slower sections are murmurings of shadow. Internal resonances are beautifully enhanced in the third and fifth etudes, as if in a frozen cave exhaling its own voices across the valleys. The harmonics of the fourth are the tones of icicles falling from their state of overhang.

Études australes (2002/03) shifts to warmer, more forgiving spaces. Subtitles of individual etudes (Tierra del fuego, Cape Horn, etc.) suggest polar geographies but also the genera (e.g., Aptenodytes) and species of birds who inhabit them. With no pedal indications to lead the way, Berthelot is left to interpret the duration of every note cluster as if it were its own hybrid, jumping from sparkling cliffs into oceanic depths.

The Toccata (1983, 1988) is an ode to the composer’s own youth and the revelry of practicing at the piano. That feeling of repetition, of evolution and involvement, is omnipresent. Insistence and flowery ornamentation go “all in” throughout this fascinating and unabashedly honest music.

Cadenze is a set of nine aphorisms composed over a 25-year period (1983-2008). Though short, they practically insist on lingering long after being uttered. Thus, the markings of each are as much linguistic as environmental. Some particularly striking examples are numbers III (a psychic rush), VI (a dance that never gets off the ground), and VIII (a lullaby for DNA).

Nachtmusik (2008) concludes with a piano-only section from the longer Deu notturni con figura, itself for piano and electric piano. As the most brooding narrative at hand, it pulls itself through a thick emotional transference, ever aware of its age.

Fedele’s oeuvre is a collective study of contrasts in the same planetary body. Just as the Earth’s axis suggests two tilts—one toward the sun and the other away from it—it balances light and dark, warmth and cold, art and science. This is neither a treatise or a manifesto, but a short story collection rolled into a ball and kneaded until its words are no longer distinguishable.