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Three Architectures for Orchestra

Tektosyne is a collection of three pieces for symphonic orchestra: Temenos, Intercolumnia and Entasis. The ancient Greek word “tektosyne” refers to the carpentry and, more generally, to any craftsman or workman, from gymnastics to poetry. The idea of using it as a title – and framing these pieces as “architectures” – came from a conversation I had with an architect, and my attempt to translate for him the basic ideas of my project: a dynamic system of contrasting forces and tensions. As a collection, Tektosyne features a cycle, that starts with the definition of the project space – the “temenos” - and ends with the massive constructive effort of Entasis. In ancient Greece the “temenos” was a sacred precinct, an area that could host several buildings reserved for worship. In psychoanalysis the term “temenos” conceptualizes therapeutic containment and defines a symbolic space that is fundamental to protect the centre of the personality from being influenced or damaged from the outside.  Tektosyne incorporates materials and techniques belonging to past traditions, in continuity with Western composers like Ligeti, Penderecki and Sofia Gubaidulina, who offered, in their works, re-interpretations of traditional techniques.

The row at the basis of Intercolumnia derives from the serialization of materials from Brahms’ Fugue for Organ in A@ minor (Wo0 8). Brahms particularly loved this work, as testified by many documents and letters Joachim and Clara Schumann exchanged.  The Latin term “intercolumnium” can be defined as the distance between column shafts, measured at the basal diameter. The idea of using this term as a title came from the mental act of “spacing” the other two pieces of the collection with a panel featuring less density in the texture. I also liked the idea of suggesting the presence of elements from the past – like the subject of Brahms’ Fugue – through the metaphor of a background landscape against the columns of a temple.

The Greek word “entasis” means “tension,” “straining,” “exertion.” It was used in architecture to indicate the swelling in the outline of a column, and in music to describe the tension of the strings in a lyra. Broader meanings include “intensify,” “carry on vigorously,” “exert oneself,” “be vehement.” The Greeks used it to express strength, and emphasize the effort of the columns, that support the weight of the trabeation. The swelling that characterizes the middle part of the columns symbolically expresses the pressure exerted by the trabeation. Entasis has been conceived as a multi-layered composition, where elements apparently incompatible, and different languages are forced to work together in constant  friction. They evolve and change, passing through different states of matter, from rigid to fluid shapes.  In Entasis the performers are also required, in some passages, to whisper or loudly pronounce some Latin words from the section of Vitruvius’ treatise De architectura  (mid-20 B.C.), where he explains the concept of  “entasis.”


They comment on the action, like the Greek choir did in ancient tragedies, and are meant to represent the internal reaction of the audience to the most mysterious passages of this score. Even though, in Tektosyne, the genesis and elaboration of the materials are based on consistent mathematical procedures, the interpretative key of this work is in its dramaturgic and communicative strategies, meant to establish a contact with the audience and offer an emotional and spiritual journey.

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