The timelessness of love and mourning

Mike Patton, joined by the Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble, pay tribute to pioneering composer Luciano Berio with the July 2 release of Laborintus II via Ipecac Recordings.

Berio, a groundbreaking Italian composer whose lengthy list of compositions revel in experimentation and intuitively fuse classical, jazz and electronic music, created Laborintus II in 1965 to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth.

The composition is based on the “Laborintus” poem by Edoardo Sanguineti. Laborintus II highlights the timelessness of love and mourning and is told in three voices. In 1972, Berio performed Laborintus II at the Holland Festival, the Dutch premiere of the piece, with a set that included a giant blow-up doll and old car tires.

In 2010, Mike Patton joined the Ictus Ensemble and Nederlands Kemerkoor at the Holland Festival for a performance of Laborintus II, which is featured on this release. Lieven Bertels, Holland Festival’s former Artistic Director, said of the recital, “Loyal to the historical context of a repertoire piece from the previous century, we were also aware that this project could attract a much younger audience, for whom Laborintus IIwould be a first-time discovery of Berio’s work. In reintroducing this piece, we added new touches — foremost being the refreshing combination of narrator Mike Patton, regarded as one of the world’s most versatile and astounding vocalists, with the fine vocal filigree of the Nederlands Kamerkoor and the musical volcano that is the Ictus Ensemble.”

Patton, who has continually paid tribute to Italian composers, most recently with his 2011 Mondo Cane album, discussed the differences and similarities between Berio, Morricone and Nono in an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, ” I can listen to Berio and Nono as easily as I can to Morricone but like all modern music of Italy, it is unfortunately marginalized. Maybe because of the language barrier, maybe because it’s not easily understood. Berio, who was teaching in California when he wrote this piece, was listening to jazz, pop and folk music and incorporated all of it in his works without prejudice.”

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