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Laborintus II
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Jutta Troch, Samia Bousba?ne (harp); Geert de Bi?vre, Fran?ois Deppe (cello); Michael Schmid (flute); Dries Tack, Carlos Galvez, Dirk Descheemaeker (clarinet); Philippe Ranallo, Micha?l Tambour, Lo?c Dumoulin (trumpet); Michel Massot, Alain Pire, Nicolas Villers (trombone); G?ry Cambier (double bass); Gerrit Nulens, Michael Weilacher (drums, percussion).
  • Audio Mixers: Jean-Luc Plouvier; Yannick Willox.
  • Liner Note Authors: Lieven Bertels; Georges Octors; Jean-Luc Plouvier; Melissa Rossi.
  • Recording information: Muziekgebouaw aan't IJ, Amsterdam (06/18/2010).
  • Editors: Georges Octors; Yannick Willox.
  • In 2010, vocalist Mike Patton teamed with Belgium's Ictus Ensemble, the Nederlands Kamerkoor choir, and a trio of female vocalists to present Italian composer Luciano Berio's Laborintus II at the Holland Festival. Given Patton's wide-ranging music career from pop and metal to the avant-garde, this isn't surprising. That said, given the complexity of the work, its status in 20th century music's vanguard, and the level of the players involved, it is perhaps his most ambitious collaborative project. Berio's 1965 composition was written in celebration of the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri's birth. It was performed at the Holland Festival in 1966. The three-part work is titled after, and uses as its text, Marxist writer Edoardo Sanguineti's poem Laborintus, which appropriates fragments of works by Dante, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and the Bible alongside original content; all of it comments on the timelessness of love and mourning, while acting as a critique of the commoditization of all things. Patton serves as narrator. He speaks in Italian throughout (though there are lyric translations in the booklet). He is alternately authoritative and declarative, reflective, romantic, priestly, and nearly apocalyptic. He shouts, whispers, declares, and intones. The female vocalists are a counter. They hover in the background, but they are a commanding presence nonetheless, whether cooing, crooning, or howling. The choir responds to Patton's narration. They chant in unison, they argue; they accent the dramatic tension in the music. The Ictus Ensemble shines: they take on this mad music with bracing freshness and mischievous glee. Whether playing a seemingly improvised section or one in which an instrument acts to interrupt another, or offering brief pastoral interludes, or swinging like mad in the jazz section during part two, they are truly stunning. The contrasting roles of percussion and electronics in this work are also important. In their respective ways, they help to erect musical and textural architectures, then disassemble them quickly; they create space as well as dynamic. The challenge for Patton fans is to hear Laborintus II in this new context: one where he is serving the music, trying to draw attention to Berio rather than his voice. Presenting a piece of musical theater as a stand-alone work can be a bit difficult to grasp upon first listen; that said, it does reveal itself ultimately to be a very nearly dazzling endeavor that rewards patience mightily. ~ Thom Jurek
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