Luciano Berio's Sequenza VIII für Violine solo
To compose Sequenza VIII has been like paying a personal debt to the violin, which to me is one of the most subtle and complex of instruments. I studied violin myself, while I was already learning the piano and before starting the clarinet (my father wanted me to practise “all” the instruments), and I have always maintained a strong attraction for this instrument, mixed, however, with rather tormented feelings (perhaps because I was already 13 - much too late - when I started my violin lessons).
While almost all the other Sequenzas develop to an extreme degree a very limited choice of instrumental possibilities, Sequenza VIII deals with a larger and more global view of the violin: and can be listened to as a development of instrumental gestures.
Sequenza VIII is built around two notes (A and B), which - as in a chaconne - act as a compass in the work’s rather diversified and elaborate itinerary, where polyphony is no longer virtual but real, and where the soloist must make the listener constantly aware of the history behind each instrumental gesture.
Sequenza VIII, therefore, becomes inevitably a tribute to that musical apex which is the Ciaccona from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in D minor, where - historically - past, present and future violin techniques coexist.
Sequenza VIII was written in 1976 for Carlo Chiarappa.