A note on Franco Donatoni ‘Ciglio’

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by


Donatoni-Ciglio (1994) (a performer’s perspective)

 

On the practice desk. Pencil and some inspiration: Roman Glass from the Thames at Wapping

On the practice desk. Pencil and some inspiration: Roman Glass from the Thames at Wapping

‘A performer familiar with Donatoni knows that elaboration, ornamentation, grace-notes, trills, mordents, appogiaturas, etcetera are the very stuff of his work. His music follows the architectural principles of decoration established by Alberti and his school, rationalising what they saw, or thought they saw, in the buildings of ancient Greece and Rome. Central to this, or ephemeral to it (an important non-disctinction), is the notion that the decor of a structure should reflect or express, its purpose, its meaning. There’s a wonderful word, ‘staffage’, which may or may not come from the German staffieren. It can be used to describe the hidden interior structure of a thing (sculptors use to describe the armature on which a clay maquette is built), its exterior elaboration, or in classical painting such as that of Claude Lorrain or Poussin, the ‘peopling’ (Staffierung) of a landscape. The decorative definition is reflected in the use of this word by your local butcher, for the paper decorations he makes for a roast (crowns for the legs of a chicken, for example). The point is this; the more decorative a gesture, the more it expresses the indefinable ‘heart of the matter’, so much that it might actually be that heart, like the garland across heaven which is the figuration in a Bach Chorale Prelude’. So it is with this piece, where each four to six bar verse, is enriched, elaborated in a multitude of ways, whilst the ‘ground’ is never revealed, unless that ground is empty space, or Time itself!’ (Peter Sheppard Skaerved)

Roderick Chadwick rehearsing his 'Duo 2' with  composer/violinist Mihailo Trandafilovski (right) and Peter Sheppard Skaerved, at Wiltons. May 2009

Roderick Chadwick rehearsing his ‘Duo 2’ with composer/violinist Mihailo Trandafilovski (right) and Peter Sheppard Skaerved, at Wiltons. May 2009

I will be playing this piece on 27th April with Roderick Chadwick on the 27th April, at Kettles Yard, Cambridge. Here’s more information:

http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/music/newmusic/

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