Prêt-à-porter ou coupe sur mesure ? Liberté et contraintes de la temporalité dans l’interprétation de la Sequenza III de Berio


Journal Article


Lalitte P. & Grepel V.




Prêt-à-porter ou coupe sur mesure ? Liberté et contraintes de la temporalité dans l’interprétation de la Sequenza III de Berio

Journal / Livre / Conférence



Sequenza III (1965-1966) for Female Voice by Luciano Berio is one of the leading works in the solo vocal repertoire after 1945. The work is the culmination of a fruitful on-going collaboration with Cathy Berberian, interrupted by the singer’s death in 1983. Perfectly knowing the singer’s vocal possibilities, Sequenza III was “not only written for Cathy, but about Cathy” as the composer asserts. It is then legitimate to ask the question of the fate of the work, since Sequenza III was by no means reserved, in Berio’s mind, to a dedicated performer. In order to answer this question, this article analyzes five recorded performances (Berberian, 1967 and 1970; Castellani, 1998, Ganz, 2006: Arnold, 2006). An analysis of recordings duration and of silence and breathing length was carried out. The score of the Sequenza III written in proportional notation being divided into 10-second segments, we were able to establish the temporal profiles of each performance. An audio features analysis with another segmentation based on musical phrases served as data for a discriminate factorial analysis that highlighted the overall similarities and divergences between performances. Temporal and sound data analysis with audio features made it possible to shed light on the evolution of the work through its recorded occurrences, the temporal directionality inferred by this or that performance, the creativity of the performers and the possible influence of Berberian’s two historical recordings. Thus, we found that the duration of Berberian’s first recording (1967) and that of Ganz’s are those that are closest to the duration suggested by Berio, while Berberian’s second recording (1969) is the fastest. We also found that in their own temporality, performers gave preference to indications of expression (and to a lesser extent text) over vocal gestures. Even if it is clear that all the performers have tried to respect the composer's intention and score notation, we have noticed notable differences between the five recordings and more particularly between the three made in the studio under the supervision of Berio (Berberian 1967 and 1969, Castellani) and the two other.



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