A Self-portrait (with Anatsui in the background)

for prepared piano
[2022] dur. 11′ ca.

Written for Gabriele Carcano, co-commission Amici della Musica di Firenze and Musica Insieme/MICO, Bologna Modern

looking at “In the World But Don’t Know the World”

El Anatsui 2009 / Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Sept. 2022

A Self-portrait was born out of a commission and a proposal from Gabriele Carcano to write a piece in relation to Africa and the music of Ligeti and Debussy. I loved the idea.

The title is inspired by the second movement of the Three pieces for two pianos: Self-Portrait with Reich and Riley (with Chopin in the background) by Ligeti.

The title is therefore a tribute to a composer who I have always considered one of my compositional heroes. Another homage is linked to the work of El Anatsui, a Ghanaian sculptor known above all for his majestic sculptures/tapestries, made with recycled materials such as printing plates and liquor bottle caps, crushed and connected together by thin copper wires, in order to create complex shapes and textures, made with meticulousness and geometric vision.

There is a work by Anatsui at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (In the World But Don’tKnow the World) which together with other artworks that I have had the opportunity to admire over the years, it has become my “background”, a very strong visual and symbolic reference that accompanied me during the composition of the piece. Textures/patterns, cells that repeat themselves and juxtapose, similar and changing in profile and dynamics, refer to the textures by Anatsui but also to rhythms, mechanisms, and stasis of Ligetian proximity which, through the piano preparations, they outline percussive sounds with a mbola’s timbre and profiles/waves of a distorted Debussyan nature.

So many references and suggestions that eventually get lost and confused, what remains is a self-portrait, mine.