String quartet biennale Amsterdam Magazine Re-sol-ut-Io

String quartet biennale Amsterdam Magazine Re-sol-ut-Io

Masterclass – Improvisation
Monday 29.1 / 11:30

Cuarteto Casals evening concert
Monday 29.1 / 20:15

The music of Italian composer and cellist Lucio Franco Amanti lives somewhere between classical, jazz and pop music. Within his compositions, these genres blend into a fresh and recognisable idiom in which improvisation plays a lead role. Together with the string quartets of Beethoven, Amanti’s music forms the backbone of the programmes that Cuarteto Casals will present during the String Quartet Biennale.


About two years ago Cuarteto Casals offered me to be part of their “Beethoven illuminate anew” cycle. Their request to me was to write something, relatively short, both consistent with Beethoven´s masterworks and Cuarteto Casals’s unique identity… What an intriguing head-scratcher!

I knew the solution laid somewhere between the Mediterranean shores and the beauty of German landscapes but that some creative thinking was needed to find it.

One day, while thinking about Goethe’s ‘Italian journey’, a curtain seemed to lift, revealing the following scene:

A theater lying lazily on a square in a warm summer sunset light; street musicians playing multicoloured tunes while, from an open window, we hear somebody rehearsing a Beethoven string quartet. Melodies and rhythms start to counterpoint, growing into something, so captivating, that the quartet can’t resist joining the improvised dance of the street musicians, out in the open. Suddenly, a gentle rain starts to fall. It is time for the quartet members to run back to the safety, to briefly dust off their concert clothes and go on stage to perform Beethoven’s ‘Harp Quartet’.

The only thing still missing was a key; a link to bridge all the characters of my story. I found it in the realisation that a word lays “hidden” in the St. John’s hymn that gave musical notes their original name: ‘re, sol, ut, io’ – D, G, C, B in English music notation) – or ‘Resolutio’. Perfect, “Resolutio” in Latin means both the resolution of a problem and the re-solution: a re-blend of many elements to make something new. There was finally the melodic and a rhythmical canvas for my piece!

And that’s the story of ReSolUtIo, commissioned by the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam. It will premiere during the festival to then travel, with Cuarteto Casals, through all the major concert halls in Europe to eventually be published by Schott Music.

Improvisation plays a big part in both my compositions and my pedagogic works: to me it represents a great resource to bring composer, performer and audience closer together and it’s something worth rediscovering in the classical music world.

The improviser sees music as a tool to tell a story but, unlike an actor, he doesn’t recite it by hart. Instead, he fixes in his mind the general plot to then start the narration; reacting to what he feels in the moment, to what his colleagues do… Even the audience can become part of the process.

String quartet, this “conversation among four intelligent people” as Goethe described it, seems to me an ideal ensemble to improvise: it is simple enough for every performer to feel free, while having the perfect number of voices to create a full harmonic and rhythmical coherence that will help the audience follow the story enjoying it.

With so many renowned string quartets present, I’m planning to enjoy every single event of the Biennale; but, I can’t deny that our improvisation masterclass – preceding the concert on the 29th – holds a special place for me.

Text: Lucio Franco Amanti
Photo: Fabio Calvelli


Read the whole article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

back to top