RECITARE TASSO (Reading Tasso) The Rhythm of Solitude
A program at the same time idealistic and philological. A reading rather than a real and proper concert, originating from the necessity to cross the borders of song in order to return to the single spoken voice, to pure narration, to the emotions of the naked poetic verse. By reciting Torquato Tasso’s poetry, we wish to go in search of the very roots of the ‘Recitar Cantando’,a musical style that departs from the close connection between singing and the natural power of the spoken word. Recitare Tasso proposes the intimate space of a listening experience without filters: the voices of the narrator and cello, an instrument that sings and seduces, offer themselves to a dialogue, become a theatre of poetry. His eye scarce dwells upon this earthly scene; his ear imbibes all nature’s harmony; what history reaches, and what life presents, his breast in pleased alacrity absorbs. What’s widely scattered forth his mind collects, and his deep feelings lend the lifeless life: In his own self-formed magic circle roams this strange and wondrous man, and lures us too to wander with him, and take part in all. He seems to near us, yet remains afar; His looks are bent on us, while haply glares on him some mighty spirit’s answering gaze.
Such is the picture Johann Wolfgang von Goethe painted of Torquato Tasso in the first act of his 1799 drama of the same name, by voice of the character of Eleonora d’Este. The condition humaine of the poet, the events of his life as a courtier, the exceptional and pathological movements of his inner world are all present in these readings, that bring out the natural way in which they are transferred to moral, esthetical and structural categories. The external and generical for Torquato Tasso are the internal and the particular, and the poet’s inclination to delude himself by escaping the reason of things becomes the fundamental principle from which departs a distinctive stylistic mode: the “rhythm of solitude”. With the sometimes little known verses of the poet, and the sounds of music only apparently distant, we go in search of the core from which Tasso’s poetry takes its origin.
Few lines of a life
Torquato Tasso was born in Sorrento on 11 March 1544. A restless childhood and the premature death of his mother, that occurred when Torquato was only twelve years old, mark his character and make him into a tormented spirit of unstable temperament. Of solid instruction and Catholic education, at the age of twenty-one he entered the service of Cardinal Luigi d’Este and then of his brother duke Alfonso II. He worked under Alfonso’s protectorate for several years, with occasional interruptions. Torquato Tasso lived a life of wandering from one court to another in the hope of obtaining also the protection of the de’ Medici and the Pope, but remaining unsuccesful, he eventually returned to Ferrara in the service of the dukes d’Este. His destiny was marked by many a dark page: signs of mental imbalance started to become manifest and in 1579 he was locked away in the Ospedale di Sant’Anna, where he remained for seven long years. The emotional instability he suffered brought him to the conviction he was a heretic, and several times he requested for a hearing at the Tribunal of the Inquisition, from which he always came out absolved. In the last years of his life, passed between Rome and Naples, Tasso found a serenity both spiritual and economic, that allowed him to gain numerous acknowledgements. Death came to him in Rome, at the age of 51 years, on 25 April 1595.
‘An apparent distance' is perhaps what best describes our approach. We have associated very different historical times to keep alive the connection that makes every form of art the highest expression of human passions and sufferings. In Recitare Tasso, music underpins the spoken word, but traces an oblique path towards the verses not only from a timing perspective but, inevitably, at an interpretational level. Although the two means of expression appear distant from one another, they have a common denominator – the quest for re-creating the feelings and turmoils within each of us. Reger, Britten, Gubaidulina, Weinberg and Morini are composers who use a modern language but convey eternal emotions. In our programme, the poet’s verses create an emotional tapestry for the cello’s voice, with surprising results. Centuries that are far apart blend into a contemporary dialogue. Recitare Tasso combines twentieth century and contemporary cello solo repertoire, a relatively unfrequent choice in concert halls, with the poetry and prose of Torquato Tasso, a literary achievement that is too often relegated to schools and universities. A story of rediscovery whose aim is to draw the listener away from the noise of modernity, and closer to forgotten authors who cry out to the depths of who we are.