the Four seasons
Performer Daniel Teruggi32 p, notes in English, French, Spanish
CD MDC 7868 20€ / order
About DANIEL TERUGGI
the Four seasons
Instants d’hiver 1993 14:11 acousmatic
Commissioned by the GRM
Summer Band 1996 14:22 for bandoneon and tape
Bandoneon: Juan José Mosalini, Commissioned by the GRM
Springtime 2013 16:42 acousmatic
Commissioned by the ZKM in Karlsruhe
Autumn Song 2008 18:53 for piano and tape
Piano: Ancuza Aprodu
The Four Seasons, a possible interview with myself
Where does the title The Four Seasons come from?
This project started inadvertently in 1993 with the composition of the first work of the cycle Instants d’hiver (Winter Moments). It is a work in several movements, some very short, coming from unfinished musical projects that I had abandoned. All these previous projects should have taken place in wintertime during the five years preceding the composition. I selected a lot of material I had prepared for these projects and starting from there I composed the piece. Then came Summer Band in 1996, for bandoneon and tape, whose title came naturally for me in reference to a work of Piazzolla’s that I loved and played a lot as a teenager (“Verano Porteño”, Autumn in Buenos Aires); it was also a journey into the bandoneon and its fascinating sound, which is an invitation to movement and rhythm. Twelve years passed between these two works and the next one, Autumn Song for piano and tape, composed in 2008. This is an introspective work rich in complementary dialogues between the two sources, a sort of pas de deux in sound.
Having named this work implied that one day it would lead to the complete cycle; it was not clear during the composition of Winter Moments and Summer Band, but I decided to go until the end and give my vision of the four seasons; the decision thus took place in 2008. For this, the last season was needed and it only arrived in 2013 with Springtime; an acousmatic work that completes the cycle in a discovery game of this eagerly-awaited season. In the final version of the cycle, I organized the seasons in a different order to conclude with fall and thus present in a climatic disorder: winter, summer, spring, autumn.
Are there any references to past works in this cycle?
Not at all; one could imagine Goethe or Vivaldi watching behind my imagination, but it is rather the circumstances of the chosen titles over the twenty years that have created this total dimension. I have already mentioned the “Verano Porteño” by Piazzolla which was already a seasonal cycle, but only the Verano interested me, the rest of the cycle much less. All my works have a strong identity but also present very different facets of my composition. Both acousmatic works are made up of a multiplicity of different sounds, in contrast with the works for piano or bandoneon and tape, only using the sound produced by the instrument and its transformations.
You use the word tape to define the part that is played with the instruments. Why?
One could say that this is an old pre-digital habit when music was recorded on magnetic tape. With the disappearance of analogue media, the word continued to be used to define this second sound element associated with a performing instrument, as opposed to the so-called real-time sound processing of instrumental sound, another situation in vogue. The word has remained more or less present among composers. In my case, as Summer Band was for “bandoneon and band” (tape is bande in French), I did not want to change the word for another, and even today I continue to use the word tape without any complex… I’ve never heard anyone say he did not understand what I was talking about. Same thing with the Spanish Cinta, the pun bandoneon and “band” doesn’t work of course in another language.
What about the works; Instants d’hiver first of all?
Instants d’hiver was quite different from my previous works. Before its composition in 1993, I had composed rather symphonic works, with long sections or movements. Here everything was short and fast moving; ten movements, some of them very short, structured in a dramatic organization. Each movement is a story written within a larger story with a duration of 14 minutes. Apart from working with elements that belonged to abandoned projects, the work flirts with the styles of the GRM composers of that time; a kind of discreet homage, while pursuing the goal of short, diverse and contrasting movements, like a perfume of the styles of others. If there is an adjective that can define this work it is “dramatic”. Listeners see impossible stories in every movement and some, like the third, have become well-known movements, listened to over and over again. Yet it is rather an economic work, with little material but strongly typed references with respect to the initial elements. Probably my most popular work, which has always been a great success.
The following work was Summer Band with these two references, the bandoneon and Piazzolla
Between 1993 and 1996, composition dates of this work, something had happened and it was that I started giving English titles to my works. Summer Band is one of the first ones and the other two that followed in the cycle are in English. Winter instants remained in French; also the pun could not work in another language. I wanted to work here with the bandoneon, a typical instrument of my country so imbued with tango that is difficult to break away from it. I did not know any bandoneonist, but somebody told me about Juan José Mosalini whom I went timidly to see one afternoon at the conservatory. He first looked at me with great hesitation but then heartily agreed to the project and was great throughout all its development. In my works with instruments, I begin by recording the instrument and then, starting from the recorded sounds, I create derivatives by processing the initial sounds. I treasure this approach, which brings unity between the sound of the instrument and the invented sounds; the subtlety is that I transform the sounds so much that the initial sounds may not be recognizable.
This is the case with Summer Band where, alongside minimally processed sounds of the bandoneon, kinds of simulations of the instrument, I use sounds that refer to very distant references such as the voice or percussion.
In the program notes for the first performance I said that the work was not dedicated to the music of Argentina, or even to the bandoneon, but to the extraordinary power of seduction brought by the way bandoneonists play, which makes the instrument an extension of his lungs. It is not for nothing that in slang the bandoneon is called: the “bellow”. I found the sound acoustically not so interesting but so rich are the subtle variations of intent given by this breath control. The work sounds a bit like a tango, without exactly being one but without renouncing it.
Twelve years went by before Autumn Song arrived. Why wait so long?
Indeed, I did not think too much about the pursuit of the cycle. Autumn Song, composed in 2008, is for piano and tape, and it was due to the insistence of Ancuza Aprodu that I composed it. I always presented myself as a former pianist; I was not too good at it and did not have the necessary patience to invest myself. But I always composed for piano and I had composed several works that Ancuza played and, moreover, continues to play regularly. She wanted a piece for her, and, thinking about her way of playing and her toucher, I started to work without thinking about the seasons. It was during the work, when analysing the slightly melancholy aspect of the work and after the death of the wife of a dear German friend, Folkmar Hein, that I decided on this title and at the same time I resumed the season project.
All sounds for the tape part come from the piano, here generated by myself and in real time. This means that I would write the piano part, I would record almost at the same time the sounds I would process and then I would compose the tape part within minutes or hours. The work has five movements with a novelty: the first movement has no tape, it is a piano solo; the last time I wrote a work without tape or processing in real time goes back to 1977! But this work is made of autumn colours and the colours from the faded piano, alone and contemplative, are a necessary beginning that opens the poetic world and the concerto relation to the tape.
Finally Springtime arrived in 2013, an acousmatic work rich in adventures
Springtime is a slightly contradictory title; it is a dream-work, almost a spring dream that is presented here. It is very different from Winter instants in that it explores continuity and permanent change, a kind of dream where situations are linked with large differences but within a feeling of continuity. I created a whole series of new sounds for this work but I reused a few from the winter project; sounds that were still ringing in my memory, which I hadn’t used enough or exhausted their potential rhetoric.
Another very strong element is the use of my own voice in many moments: ironic voice, diverted singing, lost words, a range of situations sometimes funny that say more about the search for spring than spring itself. This work was originally for a multi-channel environment, meaning that different speakers reproduce quite different sounds with many movements in space. In the stereo version, this spatial multiplicity is well represented and reflects the world around us.
Up to now you have told us about the genesis and circumstances surrounding the creation of works. Tell us more about the music itself.
While speaking about the creation circumstances, I slipped in some hints here and there about the music. What fascinates me in composition is to catch the ear of the listener and carry it through different worlds without letting him drop listening, or offering him several possible paths. In Winter Moments it is the strong contrast between the movements that creates a permanent surprise; in Autumn Song we find different movements, each with its universe that ends within it. In the two other works we find rather linked movements, in which we advance from one situation to another with repetitions, known elements, and several simultaneous stories.
Without ever losing sight of a symphonic perspective that I particularly love. For me music is never a single event, it is many coexisting events which separate and join. My thought is always polyphonic or multiphonic: several actions at the same time in convergent or divergent musical spaces. And always particular attention paid to sound quality; essential part of our acousmatic or tape music.
Some words about your performers; Juan José Mosalini first:
Juan José is one of the “great” Argentine bandoneonists; beyond his mastery of the instrument and his vast activity as a composer, he has sought successfully to renew the language of tango, which is a kind of music balanced between past and present. Juan José has known and played with all the great figures of the golden age of Argentine tango; he grew up with their musicality, their ideas and personalities, which he later transformed into a wish to give a new impetus to tango. He has lived in France since 1977 and trained many groups and ensembles, often experimental, with which he toured throughout the world showing the richness and diversity of this evolving music. It is Juan José who opened the doors of the bandoneon to me and gave me a bandoneon tutor he wrote that is a reference for the instrument. Beyond the musical bond of this work, we became friends, united by our origins and our thoughts about music. A musician always searching for new ideas, he knows how to give this unique breath to music that gives the bandoneon an almost magical dimension.
Then we have Ancuza Aprodu…
French pianist Ancuza Aprodu was born in Romania. She began her piano studies at the age of four and since then has led an impressive international career where, beyond the many awards she has received, she played in all the great venues as a soloist or with orchestras. But the most salient aspect of Ancuza is her commitment to contemporary music works. She has given numerous first performances of works and, wherever she plays, promoted today’s piano thinking. I met her in 1998 around a work for piano and percussion, and she has since played all my works for piano with a rare feature these days and that is the fact of playing each work numerous times and reaching a level of perfection in the playing and unparalleled interpretative and emotional conscience.
And the photographer, Bruno Comtesse?
For this CD, “The Four Seasons”, the photographer Bruno Comtesse joined the project. No better description of him than the one by David Abiker, writer and journalist:
“Bruno Comtesse is a photographer. I have known him for a long time. I feel he can catch silences. Silences of places and absences of those living in those places. Once I prefaced one of his books 75016-75116. He had shot main entrance halls of buildings situated exclusively in the 16th arrondissement [of Paris].
“I like Bruno very much, for his work of course, but also for his way of relating to others and to the world around him. Gentle, sincere, quiet, with a bit of dust on the eyelids. He has a particular style, the look of a cowboy who has been through a lot. Which is quite normal for a photographer. And also for a man.”
And who are you, yourself?
I was born in Argentina in 1952 and I have been living in France since 1977; I had my musical and scientific education in my country and in France. My whole life has been spent at the GRM within INA, where I entered in 1980 and have been head of since 1997. I’m head of technological research also at INA and composition is, of course, the essence of my activity. I have composed more than 80 works mainly for the concert, but also for dance or theatre. Passionate about sound sculpting, I like to invent sounds and arrange them in structures always different but always conveying the beauty of sound.
As a conclusion…
Music for me is a place for sound invention; I invent sounds, I organize them in complex and always different structures (as well as sounds used). If there is an instrument, it integrates the sound structure with its intake of identifiable sounds and melodic and rhythmic play. I love the dialogue between the two, exploring different forms of exchange, enrichment or contradiction.
Paris, January 2015
 Translator’s note: The homophonic pronunciation of Instants d’hiver can mean either “Winter moments” or “Diverse instants”.
 INA – GRM: Musical Research Group, National Audiovisual Institute, France. Group created in 1958 by Pierre Schaeffer.