Lanza: Experiments Premieres in Köln

Lanza: Experiments Premieres in Köln

March 31 marks the world premiere of Mauro Lanza’s Experiments in the Revival of Organisms in Köln, Germany, with a performance by the WDR Sinfonie Orchester Köln, conducted by Ilan Volkov. The composition is a reflection on the theme of resurrection, and was inspired by the final movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, known as the Resurrection Symphony.

We had a chance to ask Lanza about the genesis of Experiments in the Revival of Organisms – a title which he borrowed from a brief Soviet Union film segment that in 1940 documented “experiments” dealing with the reanimation of organisms considered clinically dead. Here’s what he had to say.

Few years ago, while reading Andrei Platonov’s 1929 novel “The Foundation Pit,” I came across this quote: “Marxism can do anything. Why do you think Lenin lies in Moscow perfectly intact? He is waiting for science, he wants to rise from the dead…”. 

It was probably the first time I thought about the theme of resurrection from a non-religious perspective. […]

It’s almost impossible (at least for a musician) to approach the theme of resurrection without thinking about Mahler’s Second, and more specifically about its final movement, the one that gives the title to the whole work.
The opening of this monumental last part is particularly fragmented. The musical discourse seems to proceed more by means of contrasts and caesurae than by means of linear development.

Experiment on the revival of organisms is built around one of the several cardiac arrests that punctuate the beginning of this movement, and quotes small fragments of the music that precedes and follows this pause. It’s a thick framework that encapsulate a small two-parts Mahler fragment, thus creating a two-section piece:

1) a slow buildup based initially on high-pitched homophonic hisses (almost an EKG sound) that culminates in a fortissimo slow chord swinging slowly morphing into Mahler.
2) a gentle two-parts diatonic music (the second part of Mahler’s quotation) gradually getting more and more dense while slowing down and fading out.

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms was commissioned by the WDR Sinfonie Orchester Köln and BBC Radio 3. 


Photo: credit WDR