Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988)

It must have been in the early 1980s – or was it the late 1970s? we were young and hopeful then, and a very dear friend of mine (still is) came back one day from Italy, super excited: “I’ve met an extraordinary composer, was invited to his house, spent time with him playing the saxophone: Giacinto Scelsi, mark that name”. I had never heard of that Scelsi, soon bought an LP of choral works, and was left, to say the least, very skeptical: it sounded to me as if there was nothing in that music, just nothing.

I later changed my mind, when I realized how much there is in that nothing.

I have more Scelsi in my collection than I’ve reviewed. This is what I’ve reviewed so far:

Canti del Capricorno (excerpts: 1, 3, 5, 8, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18). Pauline Vaillancourt, soprano (+ Georges Aperghis: Récitations, excerpts).  Société Nouvelle d’Enregistrement SNE-571-CD (1990)

and a post-script from a few days later: dear friend confirmed the story, and the dating, late 1970s indeed. He added this: at one point, while he was improvising on the saxophone for Scelsi, he was startled to hear horrendous Hannibal-Lecter grunts erupt behind his back (and it was years before anybody heard of Hannibal Lecter, of course): it was soprano Michiko Hirayama who had started improvising with him! (and it is indeed the impression I was left with hearing her own recording of Canti del Capricorno on Wergo, a CD quick and long gone from my collection… )

Comments are welcome