Always in Transition: The Musical Explorations of Rocco Di Pietro

An interview with composer Rocco Di Pietro, by Gregory Elich

Rocco Di Pietro’s music has been performed by orchestras and ensembles throughout the world. Noted for his wide-ranging interests and diverse array of music compositions, Di Pietro is also an author who has produced a well-regarded book of interviews with Pierre Boulez. Here, Di Pietro talks about his background, approach to music, and philosophy.

PLI SELON PLI: A Modern Masterpiece

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Boulez. Pli Selon Pli. Christine Schafer, soprano; Ensemble Intercontemporain, conducted by Pierre Boulez. CD, Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 344-2. This album was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Classical

This is the latest of three recordings of Pierre Boulez conducting his own music in Deutsche Grammophon’s 20/21 series, devoted to contemporary classical music. Pli Selon Pli, subtitled “a portrait of Mallarmé,” is intended as an homage to the allusive and at times enigmatic poetry of 19th-century French Symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé. The title reflects the long and gradual process that formed the piece. According to the composer, the work’s title was taken “from the sonnet Remémoration d’amis belges, which describes the brightening mist that gradually, “fold by fold” (“pli selon pli”) like a curtain opening, reveals the stone (in this case, the buildings of Bruges). So it was with the creation of this work: it came about little by little, and in the beginning I had no idea as to what sort of piece it would become.” Initially, in 1957 Boulez wrote two “improvisations” based on the poetry of Mallarmé and two years later added a third.

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