Echo of Globalization in Music and Vision 31 August
Echo of Globalization
France at the Festival of Nations,
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Città di Castello is
a relatively small medieval town in Umbria with 40,000
residents. It is surrounded by walls and features many important churches and palaces as well
as two significant museums. It is a quiet place, and for this reason it
has been and is the residence of artists. For the last forty years, it
has organized a rather peculiar festival at the end of August and the
beginning of September. It is named the Festival of Nations (Festival
delle nazioni) because each year it celebrates a nation and a specific
national musical period. This year (23 August-3
September 2016) it deals with France in the phase around World War I. The concerts are not only held in Città di
Castello (in churches and palaces) but also in nearby towns such as
Umbertide and Sansepolcro, with the purpose of sharing costs of an
operation that isn't easy: 'theme festivals' are always hard to organize,
especially at the end of the Summer when many artists are committed to major activities.
On 24 August, the concert was given by two world famous
pianists, the sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque,
who perform together either with four hands at one piano or on two pianos. In the first part of the
concert, they offered piano reductions of Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye
and Rapsodie espagnole, two works expressing the bourgeoisie in
the years around World War I. In the second part, they dealt with the piano
reduction of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps that in 1913 brought a
revolution in French and Western European music. Katia and Marielle
Labèque received real ovations and responded with a series of encores,
including Philip Glass' exciting Fourth Movementcomposed expressly for them.
Even though the
Festival of Nations has a small budget, it commissions compositions.
This year, of special interest is L'Argent o La Banca Universale
(in the Italian text) on a libretto by Sandro Cappelletto (also
in the role of the narrator), music by Pierre Thilloy
(born in 1970) and played by the Suono Giallo Quintet. The half hour composition is based on Zola's novelL'Argent and deals with financial speculation in a globalized
word, a topic as hot now as in the years preceding World War I. Pierre
Thilloy lives and works not only in Paris but also in the Middle East.
In his music, the echo of globalization can be sensed.