A list of works by the Italian composer Luciano Berio. Contents. 1 s; 2 s; 3 s . “recitativo” for cello (); Encore for orchestra (; revised ); Scena (); incorporated into La vera storia () Sequenza IXa for clarinet (); drawn from Chemins V (); arranged as Sequenza IXb () and. Luciano Berio, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (October 24, – May 27, . The first, Sequenza I came in and is for flute; the last, Sequenza XIV () is for cello. These works explore the full possibilities of. Luciano Berio: Sequenza XIV, for cello – Play streams in full or download MP3 from Classical Archives (), the largest and best organized.

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What are the limits of a musical instrument? And what are the boundaries of a piece of music? Is an instrument bounded by the reality of the individual piece someone happens to be playing on it, so that all exists when you hear a violinist play, say, a solo Bach partita is that single piece, that single player, and that single instrument? And is a musical work like an island, cut off from the rest of music history by a sea of difference so that the perimeter of one piece never impinges on the coast of another?

I may have already got lost in my musical-maritime metaphors, but my point is this: I’m talking about the Italian composer Luciano Beriowho was born in and died fello A place to start with Berio?

Try Laborintus II for voices, instruments and tape, a piece in which not just a musical past but a whole labyrinth of meanings, memories, and histories are conjured by the voices, in the interplay between Edoardo Sanguineti’s richly resonant text and Berio’s vertiginously surreal collage of references and allusions, to musical pasts of madrigals and polyphony. As Berio puts it, Laborintus II is “a laboratory ‘reduced’ to the dimensions of performance, where we test theories and practices which can be used as experimental models of real life.

And then explore the Sequenzas for solo instruments that Berio started writing in the mids, which run through the rest of his life in music, from the Sequenza I for Severino Gazzelloni’s flute in to number XIV for cellocomposed in Each sequenza sequence is a compositional love-letter from Berio to the repertoires and possibilities of each instrument.

But while a piece like the eighth in the, er, sequence sequenzaa Sequenzas for violin refracts the virtuoso traditions of the instrument through a colourful modernist prism, it also opens up a new kind of soundworld in its volatile extremes of density and dynamic, the way sudden chordal explosions lacerate the music’s surface.


Celko are moments in ceello piece where — as in Bach’s D minor Chaconne, but achieved in a completely different way — you feel you’re hearing an ensemble of violinists rather than a single soloist.

But each of the Sequenzas is essential listening and essential Berio. Others of my favourites are number III for voice, composed in for his ex-wife Cathy Berberian, the voluptuously violent Sequenza VI for viola, number XI for guitar, which distils and transcends the traditions of sequsnza and folk guitar into 15 minutes, and number XII for bassoon, which bassoonist Pascal Gallois plays in an apparently never-ending cycle of circular breathing, creating a continuous sound from the his instrument for an almost unbelievable 18 minutes — just one of the examples where Berio pushes an instrument and a performer, to their limits, and beyond.

The Sequenzas were themselves starting points for another series of works called Chemins, pathways through the material of the Sequenzas but exploded and amplified into new contexts, scored for larger instrumental groups or even for different solo instruments.

Listen to what Berio does in Chemins IIbased on the viola cel,o. It’s a typical Berio strategy of writing upon writing, building up layer upon layer of meanings, and refusing the idea that a single piece can exhaust the possibilities of its musical material.

And if that’s true for individual instruments, it’s also true for Berio’s attitude to whole genres.

A guide to Luciano Berio’s music

Composed for large orchestra and eight amplified vocalists, Sinfonia’s middle movement is one of the essential sequenzs of post-war music.

The connective tissue of the piece is provided by the scherzo third movement from Mahler’s Second Symphony, but that’s the just the base material of the musical resources Berio uses.

That’s because every bar is crammed full of quotations of repertoire from Debussy to Stockhausen, from Stravinsky to Ravel — and dozens of others – so that the Mahler, which is always running in the background, appears through seqhenza cracks of this kaleidoscopic tumult.

The vocalists simultaneously provide a vello on what is happening in the performance “where now? Even if you’ve heard it only once, I guarantee that the vocalists’s gnomic words will stick in your brain; for some reason, the phrase I can ceolo get out of my head is “the name of Mayakovsky hangs in the clean air”, as well as the Beckettian “keep going, going on …” It’s vertiginous, witty, moving, and profound.


What this teeming complexity is all about is, in a sense, simple to describe: Berio simply makes all of these musics sound together. But it’s also a piece about listening.

The third movement of Sinfonia writes out how Berio listens to the equivalent movement from Mahler’s symphony, and the piece reveals how every time we listen to music, we’re plugging into an always-changing network of memory, allusion, and cross-reference. Within the framework of the whole five-movement piece, Sinfonia listens to itself, so that its final movement does to the piece what the third wequenza does to Mahler. The effect of Berio’s labyrinths of listening is nearly always immediate, pleasurable, and sensual.

His music admits as much of the world as he can cram into it, an openness embodied by one of Berio’s most popular and approachable pieces, Folk Songs. Coro makes a kind of meta-world music by turning a poem by Pablo Neruda into a gigantic, dissonant lament, but it also uses folk texts from all over the world, from Polynesia to Peru, to create what Berio himself described as “the plan for an imaginary city which is realised on different levels, which produces, assembles and unifies different things and persons, revealing their collective and individual characters, their distance, their relationships and conflicts within real and ideal borders”.

Andrew Clements writes passionately about Coro here. Berio’s operas do to the stage and to storytelling what the rest of his music does to other kinds of repertoire; among them are the genre-expanding Opera, then there’s La vera storiaa collaboration with Italo Calvino, the Tempest-haunted Un re in ascoltoand his final stage work or “azione musicale”, as Berio described it, Cronaca del luogo.

Berio’s last work, Stanzeis a luminous song-cycle on themes of God and death, for baritone, male voices, and orchestra, music as moving as any he wrote.

Wherever you start with Berio, you won’t want to end, only keep listening, listening on ….

Sequenza – Wikipedia

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