Wergo's 2004 release of Luigi Nono's Composizione per Orchestra No. 1 and the premiere recording of his ballet Der rote mantel (The Red Cape) is a real find for aficionados of the avant-garde. Nono's music from the 1950s is uncompromising and rather stark, and both works are somewhat mystifying in their prolonged silences. Yet this music is haunting and often beautiful, and Nono's rarefied orchestration reveals many fascinating timbral combinations. Composizione partakes of the serial practices of Anton Webern, operating on a row of nine pitches and reserving the missing three tones for the percussion in the closing passages. However, there are many striking reminders of Edgard Varèse in Nono's use of staggered brass fanfares and complex counterpoint for percussion. The Deutscher-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, led by Peter Hirsch, is precise yet flexible, sounding fully rehearsed and free to make the music expressive. Der rote mantel is derived from a play by Federico Garcia Lorca, and as a complement to the passionate stage action, Nono's music is noticeably more active and intense, and perhaps more immediately accessible for its dramatic contrasts. Soprano Angelika Luz, baritone Jörg Gottschick, and the RIAS Chamber Choir join the DSOB in a powerful performance, and the recording of this rediscovered ballet is superb.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Il mantello rosso (Der rote Mantel), ballet in 3 acts for soloists, chorus & orchestra|