Sandro Gorli – Studi di Forma di Variazione

Italian Sandro Gorli’s piece for solo piano, Studi di Forma di Variazione, is just like what its title implies. It takes the listener through a number of variations derived from the opening material of the piece. The opening music is comprised of two very different ideas. The first idea is made from two voices moving in syncopated counterpoint with each other. One voice is quite high while the other is low creating a strange, non-emotive timbre from the piano. It brings to mind the similarly strange color of the opening statement of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata where the voices are separated by two octaves. The second idea is made from chords that are voiced much closer. Here Gorli shows his extremely graceful, sensitive voice leading technique. These harmonies are so smoothly voiced and move so elegantly despite their chromaticism, a skill I also admire in Luigi Dallapiccola’s Quaderno musicale di Annalibera. Both of these lines begin to have playful grace notes added to them. These grace notes become progressively lengthier and evolve into trill-like figures. As this process continues, the two lines become increasingly connected by the ornaments attached to them. The components of the first sections, ornaments, voicings, and two contrasting lines, inform a great deal of the variation to follow.

I am most impressed in this piece with Gorli’s beautiful pitch language. I am not sure exactly what processes he is using to govern the assignment of pitches, but it sounds like it is serialized in some fashion to my ears. His voice leading is hypnotic; I could listen to it all day and still find new details. One can hear all the different lines moving together in intricate counterpoint very clearly in the section that begins at 6’07” because the staccato chords make it easy to pinpoint the voices. Gorli’s study with Donatoni as a student was an important influence on his perception of pitch, gesture, and even form (around 4’15” reminds me of Rima with its sharp accents over fluttering soft passages underneath), but he has also refined his language in such a way that it is becomes his own.

Hope you enjoy the music!

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