Di Gesu

Ansikte Mot Ansikte

for string quartet

duration: 8 minutes

Ansikte mot ansikte (Face to face) consists of three main movements (Fragment, Gaze, Vertigo) and two "intermezzos" (Enjambement, Rhyme).

The three movements are inspired by the key words from the first quatrain of a poem by Egidio Summas (19th century Italian poet) which had always elicited reflections I could never verbalise till a film by Ingmar Bergman ("Face to face" i.e. "Ansikte mot ansikte") uncannily enlightened me on their nature.

FRAMMENTI d'ardua consapevolezza
s'insinuano nel plumbeo GUARDARE
la vita, ove qualsiasi bellezza
VERTIGIN da dal fondo di quel mare…

FRAGMENT(s) of a painful awareness
creep into the GAZE on life
where beauty is but the dizziness
(VERTIGO) caused by its inaccessibility…

In Fragment the development of thematic 'slivers' is interrupted by the appearance of a passionate viola tune, symbolising (as it were) the chance glimmer of awareness on the stormy fuzziness of perceptions of reality.

Gaze features, instead, the drawing of a transparent, air-like, instrumental web colouring a single line around which more lines will be embroidered near the end of the piece.

In Vertigo the gap between longing for truth-beauty and its inaccessibility is defined by the structurally painstaking organisation of an almost ungraspable darting semitonal figuration whose harmonic implications rise to thematic identity in a whirling process of ever-increasing tension culminating in the final eight-note chord in fff.

Enjambement and Rhyme, conceived as 'poetic punctuation marks' of the work, are respectively the melodic and harmonic meditation on the pieces they are adjacent to.

Massimo Di Gesu started his music studies in Monza (his native Italian city) in his early teens. Soon after, fascinated by the first approaches to the secrets of harmony, began to focus on composition.

One year later (1986) he undertook the Harmony-Counterpoint-Fugue-Composition 10-year course (with teachers such as Azio Corghi, D. Lorenzini, S. Bianchera) which he carried out alongside with the Piano training and the high-school Pedagogy studies, gaining a degree in any of the above disciplines (at the "G. Verdi" Milan Conservatory and at the "C. Porta" High School –Monza-) between 1990 and 1995.

In these years his musical interests and a never neglected bent for literary practice and aesthetic investigation led him to start a musicologic activity which resulted in various contributions to conferences and in the publication of some articles about 19th-20th century music.

Remaining composition his main object of interest, he later continued to deepen his awareness of this subject attending further post-degree courses both in Italy and England, where he finally moved in 1996.

Here he started the career of freelance composer which yielded collaborations with important ensembles and soloists such as, among others, Peter Bradley-Fulgoni, the piano trio "Arcturus", and Almira String Quartet, for performances took place in as remarkable venues (Leeds University, Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire, St.Martin in the Fields, etc.).

The recognition acknowledged by academic institutions to his work (noteworthy is the selection of his string quartet Ansikte mot ansikte for inclusion in the recent Kiev International Youth Music Forum, and the first prize awarded to his Schegge for piano trio at the "B. Bettinelli" 2001 National Competition –Milan-) never influenced his independent attitude to the stereotypes of avant-garde: in fact, making the most of his harmony and counterpoint studies and of his experience as a pianist (whose repertoire ranges from Bach to Webern including his own works), he developed a personal conception of the dialectic possibilities of atonality, pursuing in his compositions the achievement of a language which replaces the cultural/social impasse of "experimentalism" with the (thawed) aesthetic dimension of the judgement of value, and, accordingly, not only with retrieval of an active role of the members of audience within the context of music fruition, but with the consideration of their perceptional categories as unmissable parameters of the compositional process itself.

Massimo, while cultivating his passion for Russian literature and for 30s/70s movies, is at the moment engaged in the composition of an oboe trio (for the "Pipers3") and a brass quintet (for the "Fine Arts Brass Ensemble").

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