About this Recording
8.572039 - RENDINE, S.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, "Andorrana" (Conti)
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Sergio Rendine (b.1954)
Symphony No. 1  •  Symphony No. 2, ‘Andorrana’

 

Sergio Rendine’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 Andorrana’ both owe their existence to the encouragement of conductor Marzio Conti who, as an admirer and frequent performer of the Italian composer’s music, persuaded him to broach this traditional orchestral form. All contemporary composers, or those of the recent past, have feared to measure themselves against the symphony, both because of the enormous shadow cast by the masterpieces of the Western classical canon, and because of the strict structural attributes that might seem to be “cages” no longer relevant or feasible. There are few contemporary examples, a few of them which use the extremely generic term “Symphony” to indicate a simple orchestral composition, or as a nod to an “antique” gesture. This is the case of Richard Strauss’s Symphonia domestica and Alpensinfonie, both from the first fifteen years of the twentieth century. Shostakovich’s relationship with the symphony merits separate discussion. He wrote no fewer than fifteen such works, all of which, despite their creative freedom, respect more than others the formal traditions. Shostakovich made great progress over the years in the use of this form with its complete and perfect architecture, up to the point at which, in 1971, still so recent, he published his final symphony. Even Schoenberg had, in his Quintet, Op. 26, tried to combine the use of twelve-tone technique with the four-movement classical format, trying in particular, in the first movement, the use of sonata form with a decidedly formal rigour. But it was an isolated case, such as it was for Stravinsky, who in 1945 “toyed” with the formal symphonic structure in his Symphony in Three Movements. Prokofiev, on the other hand, a more direct predecessor of Shostakovich, worked on the genre more consistently, starting in 1917, when he composed his Symphony No. 1 Classical’, and ending in 1952 with the incomparable Seventh Symphony in C sharp minor, Op. 131. A courageous few, therefore (amongst whom we should also list Hindemith, Szymanowski and Křenek) who, and this cannot be a coincidence, are amongst the most technically gifted of composers and must also rank in a list of the great craftsman geniuses of the twentieth century. One of the very small number of living composers who have written symphonies with unchanging fidelity to the genre is Hans Werner Henze, who composed ten such works between 1947 and the onset of the new millennium, his Tenth appearing in the year 2000. These symphonies, however, are part of that repertoire to which little or nothing remains of the formal genre, the name applying more to a “suggestion” than to an effective compositional identification.

Sergio Rendine accepted, with his undisputed technical compositional skills, the challenge set him by Conti and composed two symphonies, one after the other, in 2006 and 2007. The First Symphony, in three movements, was commissioned by the Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo, while the Second SymphonyAndorrana’ was commissioned by the State Government of Andorra and the Crèdit Andorrà Foundation, for the ONCA, the National State Orchestra, as a musical work representing the Principality’s culture and traditions. Rendine, as he himself confirmed in an interview, having read about and listened to a lot of traditional Andorran music and drawn inspiration from some old photos that came into his possession, chose three “incipits” from traditional themes, one for each of the three movements, and with these he developed his sound fresco. As the First Symphony ends with a third movement which is both an overwhelming and macabre dance built on a theme derived from a “tarantella funebre” from Neapolitan folk tradition, the composer having been born in Naples, thus the three movements of the Second Symphony are its natural continuation in the folk/traditional colouring of the thematic structure, even if of a tradition apparently distant that seems nonetheless to belong with complete naturalness to the composer; that naturalness that only the soul of “pure” artists can have.

On the subject of Rendine’s two symphonies, Marzio Conti, who originally inspired them and has conducted them on several occasions, has written the following: “When I asked Sergio Rendine to write his First Symphony I was very aware of having entrusted one of the last “true” composers in the international arena with the difficult task of composing a “modern” symphony. By “symphony” should be understood not only the fact of giving that name to a composition, which then in reality turns out to be a freely structured piece with some vague echoes of the classical form. There exist in fact various cases of modern or contemporary composers who have written pieces entitled symphonies, but only in name, not in fact. Rendine is capable of writing a “real” symphony, using its structure, themes, the appropriate harmonic structure, developments and recapitulations, and make it modern and contemporary. All this demonstrates that symphonies can indeed still be written. You just have to know how to do it. And Rendine, with the two symphonies he has so far written, proves this. It can be done, but only if the composer is in possession of great technique, culture, artistic inspiration – a great soul. That’s where the difficulty lies…

Translation: Susannah Howe


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