Giacinto Scelsi: Natura Renovatur

Frances-Marie Uitti, Münchener Kammerorchester, Christoph Poppen

CD18,90 out of print
Featured Artists Recorded

June 2005, Himmelfahrtskirche Sendling, Munich

Original Release Date


  • 1Ohoi (for 16 strings) "I principi creativi"
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • Three Latin Prayers for solo voice
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • 2Ave Maria (for violoncello solo)03:44
  • 3Anâgâmin (for 11 strings) "Colui che scelse di ritornare o no"
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • Trilogy - The three ages of Man
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • 4Ygghur I (for violoncello solo)06:57
  • 5Ygghur II (for violoncello solo)03:46
  • 6Ygghur III (for violoncello solo)04:54
  • 7Natura renovatur (for 11 strings)
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • Three Latin Prayers for solo voice
    (Giacinto Scelsi)
  • 8Alleluja (for violoncello solo)04:05
You cannot talk about soundmagic without also referring to Giacinto Scelsi, the reclusive, indefinable composer who died in Rome in 1988. Indefinable is, I think, the first operative word for this remarkable Italian visionary. The new ECM disc of his music begins by plunging us into a splendid confusion of sound, a dense web concocted by a gathering of 16 string players in an anarchy that, nevertheless, drives obsessively forward. For Scelsi, the normal division of the scale into eight or 12 tones was only a beginning; each note revealed a spectrum beyond. String instruments, therefore, became his chosen medium, and his collaborations late in life with the American-born cellist Frances-Marie Uitti were like a new beginning. Uitti now lives in Amsterdam; in her last concert here, at the start of the final LACMA season, she created an audible rainbow — Klangzauber, indeed — with works of Scelsi that she played with the phenomenal double-bow technique she has devised.
Alan Rich, LA Weekly
The Dutch cellist Frances-Marie Uitti is one of the performers who has consistently championed Scelsi’s music, and she appears on this intense collection of string music, interleaving two of Scelsi’s solo cello works … with three pieces for string ensemble of various sizes from the 1960s. They are archetypal examples of Scelsi’s mature music, concentrating on minute deviations of pitch and colour, so the microtonal textures seem to be in a constant state of flux.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Uitti, die Scelsi schon sehr früh nahe stand, spielt seine späten, nur noch auf die modale Linie abzielenden Stücke hinreißend. Das ihr gewidmete, dreisätzige Stück „Ygghur“ ist ein ganz zentrales Solowerk aus Scelsis Hochphase des Schaffens, und die drei Streichorchesterstücke „Ohoi“, „Anâgâmin“ und „Natura renovatur“ erstrahlen mit dem Münchener Kammerorchester in geradezu beschwörend intensiver Süße.
Reinhard Schulz, Neue Musikzeitung
Die Cellistin Frances-Marie Uitti hat den Klangforscher, der sich oft von östlicher Tonkunst anregen ließ, gut gekannt; ein Schlüsselwerk ist ihr sogar gewidmet. Authentischer als hier kann man Scelsi kaum kennenlernen.
Johannes Saltzwedel, Kulturspiegel
Wenn man die schiere Präsenz erlebt, mit der etwa die bohrenden und wirbelnden Klangverformungen in „Ohoi” durch Christoph Poppen und das Münchener Kammerorchester den Raum nicht nur zur Gänze erfüllen, sonder ihn überhaupt erst zu definieren scheinen, dann fällt es auch dem Ungläubigen nicht schwer, sich von der Frage nach der Autorenschaft zu lösen und die Idee einer durch sich selbst existierenden Musik –als einer Art erneuerter Natur- einfach gelten zu lassen: „natura renovatur“ heißt ein anderes, 1967 vollendetes und hier neu eingespieltes Stück…
Die Musik von „Anagamin“ erscheint getragen von einem deutlich spürbaren Pulsieren und Dialogisieren… Wie in einer Art Responsorium mit seinem Wechselgesang zwischen dem Einzelnen und der Gruppe stehen Cello-Soli zwischen den Streicherstücken, den kleinen „Lateinischen Gebeten“ und dem gewaltigen „Ygghur“, worin Uitti ein wahres technisch-musikalisches Wunder vollbringt: das Cello wird zum Streichorchester, und in der ebenso geradlinigen wie volltönenden Interpretation erschließt sich ein Klangkosmos, der das reale Instrument vollständig in ein unbekanntes Überinstrument zu transzendieren scheint.
Martin Wilkening, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Uitti plays as if gleaning a charged filament from the ether, expanding that thin wiry hum into clouds not so much cumulous as thunderous. Her cello swiftly ascendant into high frequencies, it soon swoops and tumbles, at times playful, other times striking with great ferocity. Revealing a sonic space heretofore unglimpsed, it evokes both the terror and exhilaration of flight in a suddenly clear sky.
Andy Beta, Citypages
“Scelsi was obsessed with a certain sonoral quality and knew exactly what he wished musically... I think he intuited a sensitivity and propensity for losing myself in sound, an advantage for playing his particular music. After all those years of rehearsing and perfecting the Trilogy, he encouraged me to abandon technical considerations and let the works fly in freedom.”
- Frances-Marie Uitti

Natura Renovatur (Nature Renewed), the first ECM New Series recording entirely devoted to the revelatory music of Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988), is a voyage into the very heart of the composer’s work. Scelsi, who spoke about a third sonic dimension, beyond pitch and duration, a dimension of sculptural depth, is a particularly apt subject for an ECM production, as both the performances and the recording itself shed light upon his fascination with the inner life of tones, with the overtone spectrum, with microtonal harmonic movement and with timbral gradations.

There is no one else who plays Scelsi with the insight and authority of Frances-Marie Uitti. The American cellist (now a Dutch citizen) was living in Rome in 1975 and rehearsing music of Anton Webern, when Scelsi first approached her. He invited Uitti to visit him in his apartment on the Via San Teodoro, where he showed her three works-in-progress for cello, pieces which were to become his “autobiography in sound”, his Trilogy. “Ygghur”, heard here, was amongst those pieces. This initial meeting with Scelsi led to thirteen years of collaboration, until Scelsi’s death in 1988. They worked intensively together on the Trilogy and transcribed for cello other works including the Three Latin Prayers (to which “Ave Maria” and “Alleluja” belong), originally written for solo voice.

Years later, Uitti archived the hundreds of tapes Scelsi left behind (many of them featuring the improvisations which had provided compositional source material) for the Isabella Scelsi Foundation. After the ECM recording session, she reflected on this work: “I now remember one particular tape I heard while transferring Scelsi’s analogue ondiola improvisations to DAT. Being a monodic instrument, several improvisations were superimposed. The quality of these acoustic tapes was at times very grainy, and it seemed that there was also a version of the same superimposed in retrograde, building a thick massive tonal centre of hoary sound. Rough, chordal, powerful. When I attended the recordings of the Munich Chamber Orchestra in the Sendling church, I re-experienced that same ‘spreading’ and transparency of sound. Giacinto often said that his music should be played in a church, and it seems he embedded that vision in the tapes.

“It was this experience with the MKO, just preceding my own recording, that inspired me to unleash ‘Ygghur’, to let it to soar through the space as a performance, uninhibited by the score, the microphones, fingers or strings- as I had done in so many rehearsals with Giacinto...”

The Munich Chamber Orchestra, under Christoph Poppen’s adventurous direction, had been giving arresting performances of Scelsi in the 2004/5 season. With Frances-Marie Uitti joining their rehearsals, they were able to go still further into the material.

“I was eager to work with Christoph,” Uitti says, “and also to impart some of that special sonoral world that was the subject of many working hours with Giacinto... The MKO is a remarkable group; they are chamber musicians with a string quartet mentality... I felt we could rehearse the most demanding details without tiring the players. On the contrary, they became more involved in the difficulties as the work progressed. Scelsi would often concentrate on high tessitura passages pushing them to almost unbearable tensile stretching, only to break in with a flood of basses; a rush of warmth and depth - his revelation of the third dimension in sound.”