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Italian Cultural Institute to host a centennial recital for the First World War

The Boccioni painting that inspired Piacentini's composition
from Wikipedia (public domain)

Next month the Italian Cultural Institute (Istituto Italiano di Cultura di San Francisco) will host Duo Alterno, consisting of pianist Riccardo Piacentini and soprano Tiziana Scandaletti. They will present a multimedia program entitled 1914-2014: À la vie!, settings of war letters and love poems compiled for the centennial commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War. The title of the program (which means “to life”) is also the title of a composition by Piacentini. This piece is an homage to two artists active during the early twentieth century, the Russian Kazimir Malevich and the Italian Umberto Boccioni. At the time the War began, each artist was working on a major piece, Malevich’s Aviator and Boccioni’s Dinamismo di una testa d’uomo (dynamism of a man’s head), reproduced at the head of this article. The performance will explore the relationship between music and these two works of art through a technique the Duo Alterno calls “photo-music with photo-sounds,” realized through video projections.

Piacentini’s title was also inspired by that of the composition that will precede his own work, Alfredo Casella’s L’Adieu à la vie (farewell to life). This is a song cycle based on texts by Rabindranath Tagore translated into French by André Gide. The second part of the program will begin with two song cycles both based on texts by Rainer Maria Rilke and both by contemporary composers who dedicated their works to Duo Alterno, Alberto Colla and Adriano Guarnieri. The program will then conclude with one of the final songs by Paolo Tosti, composed in the middle of the War only a few weeks before his death on December 2, 1916.

This recital will take place on Monday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m. The venue will be the Italian Cultural Institute, located in North Beach at 814 Montgomery Street. No charge for admission has been announced. However, because space is limited, those wishing to attend are requested to register in advance; and any individual placing a registration is allowed to bring one guest. Further information is available by calling 415-788-7142.