Sylvano Bussotti

(b. 1931)

mode 65

Piano Works



mode 65 Sylvano BUSSOTTI: Piano Works – Martine Joste. Composer Supervised

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Piano Works

Il Preludio* (1994)   (5:24)

Pour Clavier (1961)   (28:35)

Bartok-Busoni, Caprice des 34 Mikrokosmos* (1995)   (6:56)

Brillante* (1975)   (8:32)

Sonatina Gioacchina* (1995)   (5:59)
Dedicated to/Dédiée à M. Joste

Musica per amici (1957-71)   (5:57)

Petit bis* (1996)   (1:51)
Dedicated to/Dédiée à M. Joste

Martine Joste, piano

* First recordings/Premier enregistrement. Composer supervised recordings.

Sylvano Bussotti is a modern Renaissance artist. A renowned composer, he is also a pianist, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor, illustrator, set designer, director, and costume designer for both theater and opera. He was a proponent of “open form” and graphic notation scoring long before his contemporaries; many of his scores are veritable works of visual art. Exhibitions of his scores, paintings, drawings, decors and costumes have been seen the world over.

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1931, Bussotti was close to the avant-garde musical world of the sixties without ever really being a part of the movement, due to his deep-seated opposition to all rigid systems of composition. He studied with Luigi Dallapiccola and Max Deutsch. His meetings with Pierre Boulez and Heinz-Klaus Metzger eventually led him to Darmstadt and its center for avant-garde research, where he came to know John Cage and David Tudor. Bussotti’s first great successes would come with works performed by Tudor and the singer Cathy Berberian.

Bussotti’s scores are never defined to the last detail – instead, they incite a creative dialogue with the musicians. French pianist Martine Joste worked closely with Bussotti on the works included here. The composer supervised the recordings, which are recorded by the superb engineer Jean François Pontefract. Joste is a specialist at new music and has received accolades for her recording of works by John Cage (on mode 44). This is the first disc ever to present the full range of Bussotti’s vastly different piano works-compositions from his early years through today-standard notation, graphically notated, and open form. All, except for the legendary Pour Clavier, are first recordings. A unique opportunity to sample from the palette of this 20th century master.

The cover art was created by Bussotti especially for this release. Liner notes by the composer and an additional essay are included.


Sylvano Bussotti
Piano Works
Mode 065

La musique pour piano de Sylvano Bussotti (*1931) rend-elle compte du multiple créateur qu’il est? Peintre, écrivain, metteur en scène et, bien sûr, musicien, l’auteur de la sulfureuse Passion selon Sade nous livre ici, sous les doigts familiers et inspirés de Martine Joste, des pièces d’époques diverses: Pour clavier (1961) peut s’entendre comme une vaste mise en question de la tradition sérielle (Bussotti fut proche de l’avant-garde des années soixante sans y adhérer entièrement) et de l’aléatoire: une véritable, une jubilatoire ordalie pianistique de près d’une demi-heure. Brillante (1975) semble une ironique justification de son titre et autorise tous les excès interprétatifs, y compris la dimension quasi vulgaire du “brillant”. Musica per amici (1957-1971) est la révision sévère de pièces de danses destinées à des amis musiciens florentins. Quant aux ouvres récentes : Il Preludio (1994), Sonatina Gioacchina (1995), ou Caprice des 34 Microcosmos (1995), elles jouent sur les formes historiques, le pastiche, l’hommage, l’exorcisme sonore, la mémoire, d’une façon tout à fait singulière, novatrice, jubilatoire.
— From “Pour la music contemporaine”, Chroniques discographiques,
by Richard Millet, Editions Fayard

Sylvano Bussotti
Piano Works
Martine Joste, piano
4 Stars

The Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti is one of the most successful at integrating graphic, aleatory and indeterminate notation with conventional procedures. Martine Joste’s performances of Bussotti’s Piano Works really dig into their dynamic contrast of tranquil and turbulent episodes. From crosscut rhythms punctuated with silences and blizzards of chromatic notes that blacken the page (“Pour Clavier”) to passages of great delicacy and restraint (“Sonatina Gioacchina”), Bussotti’s music tests the instrument’s capacity.
—Art Lange, Classical Pulse!, June 2000

Sylvano Bussotti
Piano Works
Martine Joste, piano

Bussotti (b. 1931) is one of modern music’s dandies, though of a rather alarming, even sinister kind, given to intimidating flights of notational fancy and musico-theatrical scenarios of a sadomasochistic flavour. His bark, though, is worse than his bite. The notation, used as elegant illustrative material in the booklet, sounds better than it promises to; and even at its most fierce, as in the black blobs and crazy clusters of Pour Clavier (1961), the musical effect is strong. Lasting 29 minutes, this is a quintessential stretch of 1960s expressionism, in which shattering rampages balance inordinately long silences, and the emphasis is always on the abstract nature of discourse. Brillante (1975) has something of the same character, but in Bartok-Busoni, Caprice des 34 Mikrokosmos (1995) and the Rossini-inspired Sonatina Giocchina (1995), tonal reference slips in. The two-minute closing piece, Petit bis (1996), is the faintest of gestures, the antithesis of the foregoing extravagance, a sort of negative encore.
— Paul Driver, Sunday Times, September 6, 1998


Also by Martine Joste on Mode Records:
John CAGE: The Number Pieces 1 – One5; Two6; Four3
with Ami Flammer (violin) and other musicians. (mode 44)
John CAGE: The Piano Works 6 (mode 147)

Sylvano Bussotti Profile
Martine Joste Profile