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Chemins V (author's note)

Chemins V
on Sequenza XI
for guitar and chamber orchestra (1992)

The best way to analyse and comment on a musical work is to write another one using materials from the original work: a creative exploration of a composition is at the same time an analysis, a commentary and an extension of the original. The most profitable commentary on a symphony or an opera has always been another symphony or another opera. This is why my Chemins, where I quote, translate, expand and transcribe my Sequenzas for solo instrument, are also the Sequenzas’ best analyses. They are a series of specific commentaries which include, almost intact, the object and subject of the commentary. The Chemins are not the displacement of an objet trouvĂ© into a different context or the orchestral “dressing up” of a solo piece (the original Sequenza), but rather a commentary organically tied to it and generated by it. The instrumental ensemble brings to the surface and develops musical processes that are hidden and compressed in the solo part, amplifying every aspect, including the temporal one: at times the roles are inverted so that the solo part appears to be generated by its own commentary.
Why this insistence on elaborating and transforming again the same material? It is, maybe, a tribute to the belief that a thing done is never finished. Even the “completed” work is the ritual and the commentary of something which preceded it, of something which will follow it, as a question that does not provoke an answer but a commentary, and another question...

In Chemins V for guitar and an ensemble of forty-two players (the soloist plays, substantially unaltered, my Sequenza XI for guitar, written in 1987-1988 for Eliot Fisk), my aim was to develop a dialogue between the very idiomatic harmony of the guitar, strongly conditioned by the tuning of the instrument, and another, more extended and non-idiomatic harmonic dimension (the passport for moving between these two distant territories is the interval of augmented fourth). In Chemins V two instrumental idioms are also present: one has its roots in the Flamenco tradition, the other in classical guitar (the bridge between these two “histories” has been my own desire to experiment with an instrument I love). The dialogue between the two harmonic dimensions on one hand and the two instrumental idioms on the other, takes place through a continuous exchange and transformation of specific characters and clearly recognizable figures: the formal plan of Chemins V is therefore rather repetitive. But without repetition and parallelism a dialogue would have neither form nor meaning.

Luciano Berio