Captured on this CD is a remarkable performance of Laborintus II, only the third recording released to the public since it was first performed in 1965. Described as a music theatre work by its pioneering composer Luciano Berio (1925-2003), the avant garde piece was commissioned by the national radio agency of France to celebrate the 700-year anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri in 1265. Making its world premiere on French radio network ORTF in September 1965, Laborintus II is an edgy audial montage of voices, instrumentation and tape.
Laborintus II was inspired by the writings of Dante scholar Edoardo Sanguineti, who wrote the accompanying libretto. Whereas Berio was renowned for layering sounds and overlapping musical genres in his compositions, Italian poet Sanguineti employed the same patchwork and overlap technique with the words he used, the sources he drew from and the images his writing evoked for Berio s musical works. Pulling from his original work of poetry Laborintus, published in 1956, Sanguineti also wove in lines from Dante, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, St. Isidore of Seville and the Bible for Laborintus II to highlight the timelessness of love and mourning, usury and revolt, all of which are interlinking themes in this work. In short, Laborintus II is a modern plunge into the layers of hell, specifically the Inferno that Dante immortalized in The Divine Comedy.
Conducted by Georges-Elie Octors, this live performance of Laborintus II at the 2010 Holland Festival in Amsterdam was narrated by another pioneer in experimental music, esteemed vocalist Mike Patton, best known as lead singer of American post-punk band Faith No More. Dutch choir Nederlands Kamerkoor provided the haunting female voices and chorus, while Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble performed the musical accompaniment to this work that is considered one of Berio's masterpieces work as well as the great experimenter's most unusual creation.