Michiko Hirayama

Giacinto Scelsi: Canti del Capricorno

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Giacinto Scelsi conceived his Canti del Capricorno with singer Michiko Hirayama in mind, and the two collaborated on their creation between 1962 and 1972. This cycle of vocalizations with instruments (gong, double bass, saxophone, percussion, live electronics, and recorder) is far from the conventional western idea of song, for Scelsi's "texts" are sounds and syllables, originally improvised and chosen either for their sonic qualities or subjective mystical meanings, and the vocal lines never resemble conventional melodies. Instead, like Scelsi's other late vocal pieces, the singer produces a jagged chant-like monody that resembles glossolalia (speaking in tongues), which is wholly in keeping with the composer's expressed notions of music passing through performers like a spiritual possession or inspiration in the literal sense, (i.e., breathing in). Scelsi's music is best appreciated by adventurous listeners, who are perhaps open-minded enough to accept his unconventional approaches and equipped to deal with the spare lines and raw sounds of the Canti. Hirayama is the best possible artist to record these pieces for Wergo, since she was involved with Scelsi in their inception -- even to the extent of filling in parts that Scelsi abandoned -- and she recorded them previously in private recordings made between 1969 and 1982. This 2006 recording offers focused sound, so every aspect of Hirayama's performance is clearly heard.

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