Stefano Gervasoni
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In nomine R.
for: eight instruments
detailed instrumentation: flute, English horn, clarinet, percussion, piano and string trio
duration: 5'
commission: Ensemble Recherche
first performance: 15.11.01, Paris, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Ensemble Recherche
publisher: Edizioni Suvini Zerboni
catalogue number: S. 11956 Z.
In nomine R. he was composed for Ensemble Recherche in 2001 for eight instruments (flute, English horn, clarinet, percussion, piano and string trio, and is part of a collection of re-elaborations of forty composers inspired by the Renaissance concept of In Nomine.
In Nomine was the title given in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to a genre of instrumental compositions based on Gregorian chant Gloria tibi Trinitas and an extract of the homonymous Mass (written around 1520) by John Taverner (c.1490-1545, English organist and composer.) These were polyphonic compositions (often set to four or five voices) for viola consorts, for lute or keyboard instruments.
Nested to the instrumental voice (often the viola) that held the cantus firmus, the other instruments were written in imitative counterpoint. In the Benedictus of the Mass, In Nomine Domini is a counterpoint to four voices, and the cantus firmus is entrusted to the Altus.
In the first part of In Nomine R. (A, Prestissimo, mormorando) the viola retains this function of “tenor” - the series of very quick notes of the beginning of the piece pick up the cantus firmus of the mass - and guide to the other instruments, as expressly indicated by the score: “Each instrument performs its series of notes as quickly as possible and asynchronously with respect to the others; only the general breaths - very short! - will be synchronous and coordinated by the viola. All instruments then play con la Viola: they will interrupt the execution of their series of notes for a moment when the viola asks for it and they will immediately resume it from the note following the stop. The section stops when the first instrument has reached the end of its series of notes; the other instruments will stop immediately leaving the rest of the row unexecuted”.
In sections B (Liberamente, “each instrument follows its own heartbeat”), it is the flute - then the soprano clarinet in D - to act as "tenor", and the sound space becomes more rarefied. In this section and in section D), the letters of the ensemble’s name, “R E C H E R C H E”, are found in the notes stressed by some instruments (for example, musetta - oboe in mi b - plays “E”, “C” and “H”), while the “R” are reproduced from the sounds of the Guiro, the vibraslap, and the cuica (which can replace the Lion’s Roar indicated in the score). The name of the ensemble becomes the word for the quest: Recherche - ricercare. A word that has a rondo structure, the same form which can be found in the piece: the sections A B C D E F make actually a rondò like-form, A X A1 X A2 Coda.
In section C, the resumption of the Prestissimo, parlando of the beginning assigns the role of “tenor” to the violin, and in section E, the cello will be the instrument-guide. It is “nel tempo del respiro” (in the breath’s time) that the sounds will take their leave, following the physiological rhythm of every musician’s breathing in and out.
In the final section, the note D (RE, in Italian, the same syllable one can find in Recherche and recercar), which is also the mode of the cantus firmus, is performed by flute and piano, while the cantus firmus is sung in hoquetus by the strings with a bow rattling sound that imitates the “R” sound (as written in the score: “bow very pressed and pulled slowly, the sound is shelled, produced by small impulses”). In the three cantus firmus presentations in heterophonic form by all the instruments (the Prestissimo sections), the melodic range is progressively compressed. The cantus firmus retains its melodic profile but the intervals progressively narrow around the note D which acts as a magnetic pole. So ends the piece: with the cantus firmus reduced to the single note D (RE) becoming the symbol of a walk to do and redo, of the re-search (the Ricercare). The Coda can now begin...
Stefano Gervasoni (and Grazia Giacco), 2007-2018
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