Luigi Nono


mode 87

Voices of Protest



mode 87  LUIGI NONO, Vol.1: Voices of Protest: A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (1965-66) for soprano, three reciters, clarinet, thunder sheets and 8-channel tape (Carol Robinson, clarinet, Gerard Pape, sound design); ¿Donde estas hermano? (1982) for two sopranos, mezzo-soprano and contralto; Djamila Boupachá (1962) for solo soprano. Performed by Voxnova.

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Voices of Protest
Aufnahme: Paris, 2000. The 1st work for soprano, 3 reciters, clarinet, copper plates and tape; the 2nd for 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano and contralto; the 3rd for soprano. Vocal texts from various sources. Voxnova ; Carol Robinson, clarinet ; Gerard Pape, electronics. Recorded in 2002.

1. A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida  (1965-66) 40:28
for soprano, three reciters, clarinet, thunder sheets and 8-channel tape
Texts assembled by Giovanni Pirelli
Carol Robinson, clarinet
Gerard Pape, sound design

2. ¿Donde estas hermano?  (1982) 5:19
for two sopranos, mezzo-soprano and contralto fromQuando stanno morendo, Diario Polacco, n.2

3. Djamila Boupachá  (1962) 4:53
for solo soprano from
Canti di Vita e d’amore: Sul ponte di Hiroshima
Text by Jesus Lopez Pacheco


Mode’s new Edition focusing on the work of Luigi Nono will include not only include the notated works, but also recreations of his later pieces. These works, mainly from the mid-sixties on and including A floresta, are orally transmitted “interactive” compositions – in many cases without a completed score. Created with Nono’s preference to experiment with certain musicians and sound engineers, they often made use of live electronics to achieve a unified, constantly mobile sound world.

The vocal works on this disc come from both stages of Nono’s oeuvre, and are of a decidedly political bent. All feature extended vocal techniques, using different mouth positions to produce a wide range of vocal colors which often transcend the meaning of the words.

A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (The Forest is young and full of life), the longest work here, has no complete score. Prerecorded 8-channel tapes comprising recited texts by members of The Living Theater, along with the voice of soprano Liliana Poli, whose micro-interval vocal technique fuses with the “flutter-tongue” and multiphonic techniques of clarinettist William O. Smith, form an equal partner to the live voices of Voxnova and clarinettist Carol Robinson. Voxnova’s performance was created after intense study of Nono’s sketches, notebooks, preparatory tapes and testimonials from the original performers, including studies with a Vietnamese man to insure the proper pronunciation and melodic tones of the language and Ms. Robinson’s extensive work on timbre with Mr. Smith.

¿Donde estas hermano? is a work derived from the final chorus from Diario Polacco, n.2, but differs from it in that there are no live electronics. Evoking the voices of the dead, the singers project an extremely quiet sound world broken by suspended silences.

In a world torn apart by different forms of oppression, the song of the Algerian woman Djamila Bupachá survives as a symbol of the possibility of freedom; a political-philosophical path which Nono actively pursued.

Language : Italian.


Luigi Nono
Voices of Protest
Vox Nova, Carol Thompson
Mode 87

Nono pide la voz y la palabra
Diverdi acerca al aficionado español una de las producciones míticas del sello neoyorquino Mode, este disco que con el título genérico de Voces de protestra ofrece tres obras de gran trasfondo politico de Luigi Nono. A floresta è jovem e cheja de vida (1965-66) domina el CD con su intense y asfixiante polifonía electrónica. La propuesta se completa con ¿Dónde estás hermano? (1986; con el título original en castellano) sobre los desaparecidos de la última dictadura argentina y con Djamila Boupachà (1962) sobre textos de Jesús López Pacheco. El Nono más combativo en recreaciones impactantes.
— Música clásica por Pablo J. Vayón
Cultura y Ocio, Diario de Sevilla, MI. 26.5.2004

Voices of Protest

Voxnova (voices), Carol Robinson (clarinet), Gerard Pape (sound direction)

“Rewarding music from a key figure in post-war European modernism, its impact only enhanced by time”

Luigi Nono has long been recognised as a crucial figure of post-war European modernism; yet, outside isolated events such as the 1995 retrospective at Huddersfield, his work remains little heard in the UK. European avant-garderie that doesn’t travel? Polemic that hasn’t lasted?…

The spirit of protest breaks through in the Vietnam-inspired A floresta è jovem de cheja de vida (1965-66). Here, the urge to create music ‘as it happens’ led Nono to a collaborative approach, integrating the layers of activity – vocalists, clarinet and tape – in a process of ‘illuminating’ events and their consequences.  In addition to using the published score, Voxnova have evolved their recording from source material and a descriptive outline of the work. The result is a gripping aural odyssey through vocal incantation, instrumental monologue and taped reportage: less a historical document than a timeless, passionate call for action. The previous (cut) studio recording (DG, 6/79, nla), is quite superseded by powerful realisation.

Mode includes two short arrangements by the composer from major works, on what promises to be the first in a Nono retrospective. Music of substance that demands and rewards your attention.
—Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone, December 2000

Voices of Protest

Few composers of the post-war generation have addressed political issues with such passion and commitment as Luigi Nono. In La Fabbrica Illuminata (1964) he processed  recordings of factory noises to convey the alienation and suffering of Italian workers, while Musica Manifesto No 1 (1968-69) expressed his support for the student uprising of May 1968. Beginning some ten years before his death in 1990, however, the confrontational gestures of his earlier works made way to a more meditative, introspective approach. The Voices of Protest CD comprises pieces from both periods of Nono’s career.

It opens with A Floresta e Jovem e Cheja de Vida (1965-66), an orally transmitted work with no completed score, which Nono subjected to the constant revisions resulting from the experiments he carried out on it with his performers. Dedicated to the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, it comprises texts by the likes of Fidel Castro and Franz Fanon, and a tape section featuring clarinettist William Smith, soprano Liliana Poli and the voices of actors from The Living Theatre. The result is a fascinating, ever changing interplay of music and text, of recorded and live performance, interspersed with dramatic shrieks, violent crashes and eerie, desolate tones. Together with clarinettist Carol Robinson, the Paris-based vocal ensemble Voxnova gives an arresting performance of this harrowing work. Voxnova perform the two remaining pieces on the CD with equal panache. On Djamila Boupachà (1962), a lone soprano’s extreme crescendos and decrescendos conjure the plight of Algerian women. The text isn’t always comprehensible, but the expressiveness of Nono’s music speaks far louder than words. The quieter, more contemplative ¿Donde Estas Hermano? (1982) is dedicated to the disappeared in Argentina. Between deep shafts of silence, three sopranos and a mezzo soprano celebrate  freedom and its triumph over death. The piece may lack the stridency of his earlier work, but as a political statement it is no less effective.
—Rahma Khazam, The Wire, December 2000

Luigi Nono
Voices of Protest

Mode 87

A Floresta è jovem e cheja de vida (1) (La forêt est jeune et pleine de vie), pour soprano solo, trois récitants, clarinette en si bémol, bruits de tonnerre et enregistrement sur bande magnétique (dédié au Front National pour la Libération du Vietnam) – ¿ Donde estas Hermano ? (2), pour 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano et contralto (pour les disparus d’Argentine) – Djamila Boupacha (3) (de Canti di Vita e d’amore: sul ponte di Hiroshima) pour solistes et orchestre
Sophie Boulin, (1, 2, 3) soprano & (1) récitante – Elisabeth Grard, (1, 2) soprano solo – Armelle Orieux, (1, 2) soprano & (1) récitante – Colette Hochain, (2) mezzo-soprano – Nicholas Isherwood, (1) récitant – Carol Robinson, clarinette – Gerard Pape, direction du son et mixage, Voxnova (voix). Interprètes préenregistrés (de la 1ère version) : Liliana Poli, soprano – William O. Smith, clarinette – Voix du Living Theatre MODE87 – 0764593008729 – 50:58 – DDD – Enregistré à Paris

Mode commence une publication de l’ouvre de Nono qui inclura les compositions écrites et les reconstitutions de ses dernières pièces. Son ouvrage, principalement celui du milieu des années soixante et incluant A Floresta, est constitué d’ouvres ” intéractives ” transmises oralement sans partitions complètes pour la plupart d’entre elles. Il s’agit de musique créée, selon la préférence de Nono, avec la participation de musiciens et d’ingénieurs du son. Les ouvres vocales de ce programme proviennent de sa production scénique et sont résolument porteuses d’idées politiques. A Floresta est la fusion de la version originale (avec Liliana Poli, William O. Smith et les voix du Living Theatre) avec les interprètes d’aujourd’hui. Le travail de Voxnova, ensemble français, est le résultat d’une étude approfondie des esquisses de Nono, et des notes, bandes préparatoires et témoignages des interprètes-créateurs de l’ouvre. Le chant de l’algérienne Djamila Boupacha, symbole de liberté, illustre la perpétuelle quête politico-philosophique de Nono.
Diapason, October 2000

Luigi Nono
Volume 1: Voices of Protest

A florèsta jovem e cheja de vida* (1965-66); Donde estas hermano? (1982); Djamila Boupacha** (1962)Voxnova (voices); *Elisabeth Grard (soprano); *Carol Robinson (clarinet); *Gerard Pape (sound direction/live mix); **Sophie Boulin (soprano)


Verdict: Superb new realisation of a marvellous piece of 1960s avantgardism

Of the three leading 1960s avantgardists Stockhausen, Boulez and Nono, the Italian composer remains by far the least known. But then Luigi Nono’s denunciations of the capitalist culture industry weren’t exactly career enhancing. His unlikely synthesis of total serialism and revolutionary Marxism involved performances in factories and workplaces. A floresta… (“The Forest is Young and Full of Life”) is dedicated to the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, and features settings of brief texts by Castro, Fanon, Lumumba and ordinary workers.

The voices of Voxnova interact with clarinet, bell plates and tape in a strident, dramatic piece with dazzling effects. Nono worked experimentally with the sound engineer and interpreters and no completed appeared; editors at Ricordi, Nono’s publishers, have referred to his notebooks and the recollections of the original performers. Carol Robinson draws on a range of musical traditions in her outstanding clarinet playing, and despite period references the piece emerges as a classic. The disc is completed by two shorter pieces, Donde estas hermano? from 1982 dedicated to Argentina’s Disappeared.
— Andy Hamilton, Classic CD, September 2000

Voices of Protest

Mode 87

Una casa discografica americana presenta una scelta di opere esplicitamente “civili” del compositore veneziano. È in qualche modo una notizia. Proprio perché il cd copertina rossa, una bella foto di Nono giovane (bellissimo), titolo stampato con i caratteri delle scritte di protesta sui muri ha una curiosa aria da pubblicazione “militante”, un genere che da noi non usa più. Ci troviamo A Floresta è Jovem e Cheja de Vida (1965-’66), dedicata ai Vietcong, e due estratti: ¿Donde Estas Hermano? dal coro finale di Quando stanno morendo, Diario polacco n. 2 (1982) e Djamila Boupachà da Canti di vita e d’amore: sul ponte di Hiroshima (1962). I due estratti sono ispirati dalle storie dei desaparecidos argentini e dalla storia di una donna algerina impegnata nella guerra di liberazione contro i francesi, torturata sadicamente, divenuta un simbolo per la sinistra dell’epoca. Musica apocalittica e di purissimo lirismo, musica dove si esalta la continua “scoperta della voce” che Luigi Nono operò per tutta la sua vita. Splendidi interpreti i solisti dell’ensemble Voxnova.
—Mario Gamba in Alias (Il Manifesto) 2 September 2000

“Luigi Nono could forge poetry from the slenderest material – but his star is only now in the ascendant”

Nono: A floresta e jovem e cheja de vida; Donde esta hermano; Djamila Boupacha
Grard/ Robinson/ Pape/ Voxnova
(Mode) £14.99

Most important composers suffer a period of neglect after their deaths, but in the decade since Luigi Nono died his significance and the importance of his achievement seem finally to be getting the appreciation, performances and recordings they deserve.

During his lifetime Nono’s stature was not doubted. He was recognised as one of the pioneers of the post-war avant garde, a figure to be ranked alongside Stockhausen and Boulez in that generation of composers who in the 50s strived to create a new musical language shorn of the trappings of the past. But his music was admired far more than it was heard. His commitment to radical political causes from the mid-50s onwards undoubtedly made him a problematic figure to the musical establishment. Meanwhile, the rarefied world of his late works, from the string quartet Fragmente-Stille (1980), and grouped around the extraordinary “tragedy of listening” Prometeo (first performed in 1984), seemed hard to grasp – and even harder to fit into the modernist scheme of things.

Now, though, we can see Nono’s development in a better perspective. Younger composers, especially Wolfgang Rihm, have been influenced by his otherworldly late compositions, whose sometimes sketchy scores are gradually being deciphered. And Nono’s much more confrontational music of the 60s and 70s does not seem so threatening in a Europe without its east/west, capitalist/communist polarities.

What once seemed a bewildering stylistic change of direction in his works now seems to be just two sides of the same musical coin. Nono’s propagandist and protest pieces were intentionally extrovert: conceived almost as poster art, complete with dramatic colours and challenging gestures. But the later music looked inwards and became obsessed with exploring the internal life of every sound, though it was organised just as rigorously and fastidiously.

That change of emphasis is very well illustrated in this latest pair of discs. Mode’s collection, called Voices of Protest and promisingly labelled as the first in a series devoted to Nono, concentrates on three of the political works, the most substantial of them being the spine-tingling A Floresta e Jovem e Cheja de Vida (The Forest is Young and Full of Life, 1966), dedicated to the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam.

.the Mode disc is well documented and supported. The two smaller pieces, Donde Estas Hermano? and Djamila Boupacha, derive from larger-scale works. The first, a lament for the disappeared in Argentina for four female singers, comes from the last chorus in Quando Stanno Morendo of 1982, while the second is a soprano song, full of big, yearning vocal leaps, abstracted from the Canti di Vita e d’Amore of 20 years earlier.

But A Floresta e Jovem is a majestic, free-standing work, with an assemblage of texts that celebrate workers’ revolts and revolutionary movements. In it, a solo soprano and three reciters pitch their contributions into a musical maelstrom created by pre-recorded tape collages, a solo clarinet and copper plates. There are some volcanic eruptions, and some impassioned declamation; underneath it all, it seems a work of great seriousness and power.
—Andrew Clements, The Guardian (London),  Friday
July 21, 2000


Voxnova on Mode:
“In the Sky I am Walking”:  works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pascal
Dusapin and songs of the Native Americans.  (mode 68)
Alain Bancquart: Le Livre du Labyrinthe (mode 120/121, 2-CDs)
Gerard Pape: Vortex (mode 26)
Battle; Monologue (mode 67)

Nicholas Isherwood on Mode:
“In the Sky I am Walking”:  works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pascal
Dusapin and songs of the Native Americans.  (mode 68)
Alain BANCQUART: Le Livre du Labyrinthe (mode 120/121, 2-CDs)
Nicola CISTERNINO: Xöömij (1997) for bass voice & UPIC
(mode 98/99, 2-CDs)
Mauricio Kagel: Phonophonie for bass voice & tapes. (mode 127)

Carol Robinson on Mode:
Alain Bancquart: Le Livre du Labyrinthe (mode 120/121, 2-CDs)
Morton Feldman: Late Works with Clarinet (mode 119)
Luigi Nono: A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (mode 87)

Alain Bancquart Profile
Nicholas Isherwood Profile
Gerard Pape Profile
Carol Robinson Profile
Voxnova Profile

CCMIX (formerly Atelier UPIC) web site
Nicholas Isherwood Online