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Christian Wolff


Label: I Dischi di Angelica

Format: CD

Genre: Compositional

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In May 2022, at the age of 88, Christian Wolff performed once again at AngelicA, nine years after the monographic concerts the festival had dedicated to him in 2013 (documented on the cd album Angelica Music, IDA 030). Among the greatest and most singular living composers (in 1950, at a very young age, he was already a member of the legendary New York School along with Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and John Cage), for the opening of the thirty-second edition of the festival he presented a world-exclusive program, alongside two of his long-time collaborators, the percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky and the drummer Joey Baron, and an Angelica orchestrA of seven electric guitars, made up for the occasion around students and teachers of the Conservatory "G.B. Martini" of Bologna led by Walter Zanetti. (Angelica orchestrA is the name of an ensemble with variable line-up that the festival has created since 2015 to work on special projects with guest composers). Spanning over 58 years of the composer’s production, the programme offered on May 7th revolved around Sveglia, a new composition for seven electric guitars commissioned as a world premiere by the festival. Renowned up to that point as a pianist, it was apparently Wolff’s interest for several rock bands of the time who pushed him to buy an electric guitar in the mid-60s, and the first of his compositions to incorporate this instrument were the three Electric Spring of 1966-67.

In the 2000s he also composed three pieces for solo guitar (two of which were recorded by Sergio Sorrentino, guest of Angelica orchestrA at this time), but he had never composed for an ensemble of guitars only, as on this occasion. Largely completely notated, but with a series of compositional features left open (i.e. no specification of tempi, dynamics and spacing of musical elements), Sveglia also includes short quotations from other compositions (Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos n. 3 and 6, and a motet by Gombert), “that need not necessarily be noticed”. The other piece composed specifically for the concert in Bologna (and for one held later in New York, at the space for experimental music from which it took its title) is Roulette, performed by Wolff with Schulkowsky and Baron.

Having met her in 1993, Wolff described Schulkowski as his guide and primary catalyst for the many percussion pieces he composed since then; while Baron, the acrobatic drummer famous among other things for his work with Zorn, has formed a stable duo with the percussionist for over 15 years, and together they have performed alongside Wolff in concerts all over the world.

Cat. number: IDA055
Year: 2023
Originally released as a “private CD” by Pandit Uday Bhawalkar only for personal use. The recording was made possible by C. K. Vissanji, January 12, 2006, Mumbai, India. Mastered in January 2023 by Bob Drake at Studio Midi-Pyrénées, La Borde Basse, Caudeval, France.