Mahler (in/a) Cage | Casetta di Composizione - Sergio Armaroli & Alessandro Camnasio

 

Mahler (in/a) Cage | Casetta di Composizione – Sergio Armaroli & Alessandro Camnasio
A musical physiognomy of the soundscape
Gruen 203 | Audio CD (+ Digital) | Digital > [order]
Reviews

 

The Mahler (in/a) Cage field recording work involves the recording, in situ, from the Casetta di composizione (Composition house) in Dobbiaco/Toblach (Bozen), of the soundscape in which Gustav Mahler composed his last works from 1909 to 1911 and in particular The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde). The recording session took place over two summer days, from July to August 2020 from 5 am onwards, in the period of the year in which Mahler himself re sided in Dobbiaco to compose at the beginning of the century.

 

Mahler (in/a) Cage is a field recording work, a process of possible reconstruction of a hypothetical and natural soundscape, within Mahler’s music or rather his musical imaginary following some archetypal signals (e.g. cowbells, birdsongs). All this is traced back to the composition of John Cage Sculptures Musicales (1989): “Sounds lasting and leaving from different points and forming a sounding sculpture which lasts” (Marcel Duchamp). An exhibition of several (sonic sculptures), one at a time, beginning and ending “hard-edge” with respect to the surrounding “silence”, each sculpture within the same space the audience is. From one sculpture to the next, no repetition, no variation. For each a minimum of three constant sounds each in a single envelope. No limit to their number. Any lengths of lasting. Any lengths of non-formation. Acoustic and/or electronic [Peters Edition EP 67348].

 

Tracklist:

 

1. The sound of the earth: at dawn – [0:00 to 7:31]
2. Characters – [7:31 to 19:16]
3. Variant and shape of water – [19:16 to 24:41]
4. Nel mezzo – [24:41 to 34:54] ~ Dialectical Cesura
5. Zoo: animal symbolism – [34:54 to 43:39]
6. Casetta di composizione – [43:39 to 46:39] / 6A [46:39 to 49:17] ~ Subjective \ “… nervous susceptibility”
7. The long look: forever \ Ewig
(A Musicall Banquet, 1610, no. 10) – [49:17 to 1:14:00]

 

Excerpts:

 

MP3 | 1 & 2
MP3 | 2 & 3
MP3 | 7
MP3 | 7

 

7 Tracks (74′00″)
CD (300 copies)

 


 

Concept Sound: Sergio Armaroli
Sound Engineer: Alessandro Camnasio
Photographic action (in the soundscape): Roberto Masotti

 

Recordings made in Dobbiaco/Toblach (Bozen)
on 19, 20, 21 August 2020

 

Mixing, Synthesis and Audio Editing by Alessandro Camnasio

 

Field Recording by Sergio Armaroli and Alessandro Camnasio
Photographic concept in soundscape by Roberto Masotti

 

Artwork by U9 visuelle Allianz

 

Track (1) Mahler(in/a)CAGE \ Casetta di Composizione
ISRC QM4TX2177634

 

Field Recording Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2021 / Gruen 203 / LC 09488 / UPC 196006298074

 


 

 


 

Reviews

 

Richard Allen | a closer listen
What did Gustav Mahler hear as he composed The Song of the Earth? This inviting question is answered by Sergio Armaroli and Alessandro Camnasio on Mahler (in/a) Cage | Casetta di Composizione, whose title refers not to putting the composer in a cage, but to John Cage, whose concepts inform the execution.

 

In his last years, Mahler resided in Dobbiaco (Bozen), writing in the evocatively named Composition House. Armaroli and Camnasio begin recording outside the house and gradually work their way toward, and then in. A distant hum marks “The sound of the earth: at dawn,” punctuated by birds as they begin to awake and sing: the call to the composer to awake, fling open the sashes and begin to write. But perhaps Mahler had a different start in mind: to walk the meadows and drink in the soundscape. Would Mahler have brewed a cup of fine Italian coffee, or donned a cap and perhaps a pen? Would he have stopped to appreciate the sound of the day’s first cowbell, anticipating the arrival of more? Were the creative thoughts already beginning to unfold?

 

Behind the birds and bells, the chugging of a distant train can be heard. These were the years of socialism and Futurism, the halcyon years before the Great War, although the Austrian composer would pass away before the conflict began. The train spoke instead of travel, of open vistas, of possibility, just as the church bells served as a reminder of time, calling the mind back from its wanderings like a parent calling a child for breakfast.

 

And now the water, such water, sparkling and flowing, suggesting the smooth edges of a succulent symphony. Whether house shower or stream, the sound is known to produce inspiration, a white noise that filters distractions. Soon it envelops the soundscape like an orchestral crush.

 

And then the house, in the words of Cage, “a sounding sculpture that lasts.” The passage of wind through cracks, the echo of boots on earth, the fraying edges and solid understructures. Someone is hammering, a sound Mahler might not have appreciated as he tried to corral his scattering notes. But Mahler is hammering too: hammering out his composition in fits and fleets, the Song of the Earth, the great outside partially reimagined as he works inside, creating impressions that others would continue to embrace over a century later. Not that he was thinking that far ahead; already aware of his own mortality, he was writing of the fear of death, followed by acceptance, caving to the great eternal.

 

Finally, continued life ~ a family, perhaps wandering the grounds, a symbol of the endurance of time. New creatures bleat and caw, perhaps the descendants of those met by Mahler. An audible joy is apparent. Mahler’s music has entered the flow suggested by the stream, and the earth has continued to sing.
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Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY
This new Gruenrekorder release is one of those releases that I don’t know about. Now, suppose you don’t read any of the text, inspect the cover, and know anything about the musicians; what do you hear? Field recordings from the countryside, I would say. Water, cars, some animals, tractors, children are playing. Did I at any point think this is the house in which Gustave Mahler composed ‚Das Lied Von Der Erde‘, among other works (his last)between 1909 and 1911. I have no idea where to find Dobbiaco/Toblach (Bozen) on the map, and I pride myself on some geographical knowledge. Sergo Armaroli visited the place and recorded his sounds, according to John Cage’s ideas as laid in ‚Sculptures Musicales‘, „an exhibition of several (sonic sculptures), one at a time, beginning and ending „hard-edge“, concerning the surrounding „silence“, each sculpture within the same space the audience is. From one sculpture to the next, no repetition, no variation. For each, a minimum of three constant sounds, each in a single envelope. No limit to their number. Any lengths of lasting. Any lengths of non-formation. Acoustic and/or electronic“. The booklet mentions more names, R. Murray Schaefer and Adorno. Oddly enough, Alessandro Camnasio is responsible for mixing the music and in a short explanation, he says this work is the typical electro-acoustic composition, also using synthetic sounds. The question is, of course, are we hearing what Mahler may have heard? Surely not, I’d say, as there wasn’t much synthetic sound in his days. Although I am a bit sceptical about the whole project, I immensely enjoyed the final piece, ‚The Long Look: Forever/Ewig‘, in which insect sounds seem to mingle elegantly with synthetic sounds, and it all becomes more than sonic snapshots from a location that perhaps not many have visited and may lose it’s meaning, without knowing the proper context. Having said that, I quite enjoyed this release, but mainly for its approach to the world of field recordings. I always enjoy hearing, and I can dispense with the bigger context.
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