Luigi Nono emerged from the post-war avant-garde; he met Boulez and Stockhausen at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, he studied with Bruno Maderna and as the others was enamored over the purity, the paradigm in the fragments of music within Anton Webern. The search for a new musical language was very important given the annihilation of culture during WW2. His early music was deeply engaged in this construction within serial procedures, allowing time to elaborate complex chartings, pitch tables and structural maps for his work. Nono was also a Marxist, and brought that conceptual baggage interestingly enough to this music and the subjects he chose to represent. This was not all that unique for the time, recall that the Italian anti-fascist Left was still quite active, not allowing a reactionary resurgence to occur as we see today with the more right-wing liberlism of Berlusconi and in other parts of Europa, Nono had a deep affinity for the human voice and argubly has written the most provocative music for it of this generation, he understood the potentialities of the voice as Berio very well, and began also to utilize declamatory texts primarily of Leftist origins, but also chamber settings of Garcia-Lorca, Pavese; he was ardently supported through the PCI in Italy for his operas and simultaneously began a more active career in Germany that welcomed his Left philosophic perspective; then later in life he abandoned the concert venue to some degree, he thought electronics was a more direct approach to reaching the masses through make-shift venues,radio and media; Around the late Seventies he began to explore Live electronics with acoustics instrumetns as well working at the Frieburg Institut, and wrote a gorgeous work for pianist Maurizio Pollini "serene waves endured",that is here on this DVD a live performance in rehearsal as well with Pollini checking the hall's acoustic properties; in that the primary focus of his prior music represented struggle, oppression, exploitation as a content, these new departures seemed quite logical creatively, from this work, also working with musicians Scarponi, Scondanibbio, Gidon Kremer; he then began his antiphonal-like opera/oratorio-like "Prometeo" in collaboration with philosopher Massimo Cacciari, a follower of Walter Benjamin, and Nietzche.Architect Renzo Piano also constructed a "nave", a performance space for this work.
This DVD is an excellent summary of this latter part of Nono life/ Situated for the most part in Venice, Giuddeca where he lived, we see the enormous Archive he left of his work; also his working desk/room; he preferred his lifelong passion for making graphic plans/charts of his work, that he hung on the walls surrounding him, wonderful dark brown wood walls mixed with the utilization of bright coloured markers for graphics. This was something he had learned from reading Goethe's "Theory of Colours", a book that Anton Webern also read and admired.
Pollini and Claudio Abbado are major actors here on this DVD, they speak very well about their dear friend, the abstractions of the filmic photography makes an attempt to capture the abstraction of Nono's music quite well at times, the low undulating waves of Venice, slow deterioration of its foundations, there are also excellent rehearsals of this latter work in live electronics, all interspersed with dialogue and commentary. Oddly enough there is no actual live footage of Nono speaking or rehearsing himself, perhaps the enigma of his life and work was to remain seamless and self-contained. Electronics purveyor Andre Richard also does nice work in rehearsals with "fragments" from "Prometeo" in Berlin.There are perhaps many disappointing aspects to this, in that there is no footage of actual performances of "Prometeo" which has been done in Europe numerous times. . .