Blog / Berio: Sequenzas for Violin & Double Bass

Berio: Sequenzas for Violin & Double Bass

Posted on 1 Jul 2016 by Cristina Maldonado

‘A compositional love-letter from Berio to the repertoires and possibilities of each instrument.’ Tom Service, music journalist for The Guardian  on Berio's  Sequenzas.

LUCIANO BERIO (1925-2003)

Luciano Berio was the original enfant terrible of the avant garde. With all his ancestors dating back to the 18th-century musicians, it seemed inescapable that Berio too would take up the family trade. His style is notable for combining lyric and expressive musical qualities with the most advanced techniques of electronic and aleatoric music.

Berio was one of the most prolific and pioneering composers of the 20th century and the leading Italian composer of his generation. His extensive and varied output included five major works for the stage along with several shorter dramatic pieces, an array of both choral and orchestral music, such as the Sinfonia, instrumental works and vocal pieces, of which many were written for his first wife, Cathy Berberian.

However, as Richard Whitehouse wrote, ‘the music of Luciano Berio is encapsulated in the Sequenza series running through 34 years of his creativity.’ The composer himself said of the Sequenzas that they were ‘written for performers whose virtuosity is above all a virtuosity of knowledge.’

Berio’s Sequenzas are difficult both to play and to listen to. He makes the performer and the audience work for it. But one could argue that no good music is, because without effort there is no reward.

For this tour, ACO soloists, Max and Satu, have chosen to heighten the inner theatrics of the works by shortening both individual Sequenzas and combining them to create a unique interplay. This linear narrative will cross and diverge as both players tackle the many extended techniques and challenges of the works. The Double Bass Sequenza calls for specific tuning and requires a very bright and resonant sound to highlight the harmonics of the score, so Max will play on a different instrument for the Berio.

Here's some wonderful feedback from audiences across the country so far:

"Virtuosic playing, fun and amazement - what will ACO come up with next? It is the sheer sense of unlimited surprise which captivates your audiences year after year.Every concert is high musical adventure!"

"The highlight of the evening for me was Satu's playing of the Paganini.  She is just so good and the tone of that violin is extraordinary."

"The stellar performances of the Principal Violin, Satu Vänskä, and Giovanni Sollima but his Fecit Neap. 17 for cello, strings and continuo was probably the highlight of the programme."


MONTEVERDI (arr. strings) Lamento della ninfa
BERIO Sequenzas for Violin and Double Bass
LEO Cello Concerto No.3 in D minor
PAGANINI Introduction and Variations on ‘Dal tuo stellato soglio’ from Rossini’s Moses in Egypt
ROSSINI (arr. Eliodoro Sollima) ‘Une larme’ Theme and Variations for Cello and Strings
SCELSI C’est bien la nuit from Nuits