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Guardare, meravigliarsi… : for solo piano

by Jack Symonds (2021)

Work Overview

Guardare, meravigliarsi… is a collection of five nocturnes, each of which attempts to create the illusion of a multiplicity of layers within a single instrument. The title is from a recurring libretto line and musical figure in Luigi Dallapiccola's major opera Ulisse: "Guardare, meravigliarsi, e tornar a guardare" ('to gaze, to marvel, and to return to gazing"), representing the questing, visionary spirit of Ulysses, as well as being a metaphor for the process of composition itself.

1. Notturno sospeso: a rising figure separates the registers of the keyboard into something like a 'sky' and a 'sea', with a 'suspended' melody poised to dip downwards at any moment.

2. Notturno in riflessione: one single melody is 'reflected' softly into the middle register; a world of mirrors where every figure is sometimes exactly imitated and at others distorted.

3. Notturno ghiacciato: A slow, 3-part canon 'freezes' into a landscape of widely-spaced chords from which tendrils of the opening almost succeed in escaping.

4. Notturno in omaggio: The opening bar of Gabriel Fauré's mysterious final Nocturne slips into a hommage-commentary on Fauré's own pianistic world, before atomising into a wild middle section of keyboard extremes. The return of the Fauré material extinguishes into silence.

5. Notturno corrente: 'Flowing' from one idea to the next, this nocturne takes the material of the other four and creates continuity. Its final slow section is a commentary on the phrase from Dallapiccola, finding an uneasy repose somewhere between his harmonic practice and my own.

Work Details

Year: 2021

Instrumentation: Piano.

Duration: 18 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Notturno sospeso -- II. Notturno in riflessione -- III. Notturno ghiacciato -- IV. Notturno in omaggio -- V. Notturno corrente.

First performance: by Anna Fraser, Jack Symonds at Toasting Mother Earth (Adamstown Uniting Church) on 11 Aug 2022

Performances of this work

7 Jul 2023: at Sydney International Piano Competition - Preliminary Round 1 Session 5 (Verbrugghen Hall).

6 Jul 2023: at Sydney International Piano Competition - Preliminary Round 1 Session 3 (Verbrugghen Hall).

11 Aug 2022: at Toasting Mother Earth (Adamstown Uniting Church). Featuring Anna Fraser, Jack Symonds.

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