Francesco Trocchia, Ludwig van Beethoven

Recast (Kleine Fuge)

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A 2015 composition by Francesco Trocchia, a reinterpretation of fragments of Beethoven's hand.

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The discreet charm of form "Modern music is constantly being written, and in the face of it the music of the future must always take a step backwards". The 1923 aphorism is by Arnold Schoenberg and the words fit particularly well with Francesco Trocchia's 2015 composition, a reinterpretation of fragments of Beethoven's hand. The fugue sketch at the centre of RECAST comes from the sketchbook known as Landsberg 7, used by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1800 and 1801: it is the aphoristic, fragmentary source text. In the introductory note to the score, we read that Trocchia wanted to imagine an almost sixty-year-old Beethoven grappling with that unfinished text from the early 19th century, based on a fugue subject rooted in artistic and academic tradition; "seduced" by this idea, the Milanese composer decided to use all of Beethoven's compositional material "creating unity in a new composition". Dealing with the stylistic and aesthetic problems involved, Trocchia undertook the task of completing and developing the fragments, filling in the gaps between one sketch and the next with specially written connecting sections. The result is "a cyclic fugue that blends the Beethovenian experience with the late Romantic experience of sonata/variation form in a sonic context that welcomes the experience of the avant-garde of the last century and the lively contributions of jazz". In constructing a new sonic edifice around the musical text of the genius from Bonn, the composer pays homage to the great protagonists and styles of Western musical history: a tribute to the immortality of idioms and forms that are always capable of inspiring the new. Such is the fugue, one of the containers of fleeting sound material inherited from tradition. From Bach's exemplars to Beethoven's and contemporary reinterpretations, it remains a vehicle for outlining the transformations of musical language. Because formal conventions act as mediators between a musical idea and its perception by the listener: their function is to make an idea comprehensible, Schoenberg himself stated. The use of this contrapuntal form has thus led Trocchia not only to revisit traditional compositional techniques - with an explicit homage to Johann Sebastian Bach - but also, and above all, to investigate the communicability of contemporary musical thought by exploiting a precise system of formal relationships. The complexity of RECAST is also given by a wide-ranging macro-form, the framework of which consists of the three pages of Beethovenian sketches, quoted in full. In many respects, this work by Trocchia is ideally related to Beethoven's op. 133, the Große Fuge for string quartet. It is, above all, the cyclic conception, with the thematic material omnipresent but constantly subject to variation: one of the techniques that allowed Beethoven to rethink and expand the 18th-century model of the fugue, integrating it into the design of the sonata-form, with its harmonic tensions and complex development. Beethoven's late mature work also brings us back to the rigorously homophonic introduction of the strings which, like the Overture of the quartet, preludes the subsequent impetuous unfolding of the polyphony. And if Beethoven's Opus 133 disconcerted his contemporaries with its melodic and harmonic daring, its density, complexity, and the apparent chaos of the musical fabric, Trocchia in the ad hoc composed sections takes the sonority to its extreme consequences, devised as a clockwork mechanism of ever closer events. It is precisely the exponential accumulation of the sound material, and its subsequent dispersion, that becomes the narrative engine, the creator of tension: today's answer to the classic tonic-dominant dialectic that remains present, in power, in the incorporated sketches. Examination of the musical text reveals architecture and symmetries inaudible to the ear, and the score invites a reading on parallel planes, where tradition and actuality always end up intersecting. The grafting of the fragments into current compositional research brings Beethoven's music into contact with our own, instilling in it his eternal, vital breath.
Paola Teresa Rossetti

Additional information




Francesco Trocchia, Ludwig van Beethoven


Strings, Harp, Orchestra, Symphony orchestra, Percussion, Small orchestra


Paper score



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