Radically raw: Pierluigi Billone

News comes in of a streaming broadcast of Pierluigi Billone’s music on Radio France Musique. The concert includes performances of Billone’s Mani.Long and the premiere of his Kosmoi, Fragmente, both performed by Ensemble L’Instant Donné, conducted by James Weeks.

As Weeks himself puts it, Billone is ‘a real (virtually) unknown gem of a composer’, and that’s especially true I think in the UK. Almost everything I know about him has come from online conversations with composers more familiar with what’s going on on the continent. However, that state of affairs might be on the turn: the Arditti Quartet are playing his Muri IIIb per Federico de Leonardis at Huddersfield later this month, and don’t be surprised if Weeks himself has some ideas of his own.

As a taster of Billone’s dramatic and primevally resonant music, here’s a video of Alex Lipowski of the Talea Ensemble playing his Mani.Mono:

The Radio France broadcast is available until the 18th October. I urge you to give it a listen.

(Score extract above taken from Mani.Giacometti, for violin, viola and cello.)


2 thoughts on “Radically raw: Pierluigi Billone

  1. Thanks for this.
    I remember listening to his 1 + 1 = 1 (for two clarinets) on Kairos, it’s nice to see other pieces.

    It’s funny you bringing up the distinction between UK and Continental composers. Arnold Whittall was lecturing over here recently, and suggested that the avant-garde impulse has largely been abandoned by the majority younger British composers, and the few remaining modernists are older. Do you think this is true?

    (To me, the rise of Cafe OTO, sonic art, and improvisation are helping to turn the tide away from middle-of-the-road contemporary classical music – George Benjamin, Julian Anderson, Thomas Ades, Luke Bedford et al. are looking a bit tame in a world where SPNM is rebranded as Sound and Music. It might also be that concert promoters and curators are getting more interested in continental avant-garde.)

  2. Whittall may be right about the majority of younger Brit composers; but the majority of anything anywhere is (by definition) always going to be less than avant garde. The proportions in the UK might be more heavily weighted towards the mainstream than in Germany or Holland, say (probably a function of funding limitations and institutional caution), but that’s not to say there aren’t lots of young, mainstream, non-avant-garde composers in those countries too.

    And there are quite a few young radicals in the UK too. The Cafe Oto scene is one source – although that’s simply the latest hub of an improv/experimental underground that has been knocking around London for years. But off the top of my head I can think of a decent number of younger composers prepared to rock the boat a bit, or pursue a personal aesthetic without much concern for institutional approval. Funnily enough, they aren’t necessarily covered by Sound and Music either, since that organistion’s net is so wide now post rebrand …

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