SPIRTO GENTIL. GUIDE ALL’ASCOLTO
Rachmaninov’s Vespers. Listening guide with CD by Maestro Pippo Molino.
Spirto Gentil is a new proposal for listening to music, not only because it sets out to emphasize a repertoire that today is either completely forgotten or appreciated only by a few experts, but especially because of the series’ purpose. It is not yet another aesthetic or stylistic analy¬sis, but rather a rediscovery of the foundation of every aesthetic attempt. Therefore, the series is positioned within that great Christian tradition that, over the course of 20 centuries and thanks to its constant ecumenical vocation, has been able to appreciate the most sincere expressions of the human experience, regardless of their culture of origin. It is not mistaken, then, in seeking to understand the original spirit of this series, to return to the extraordinary activity of the medieval copyists or to that of more recent personalities like Charles Moeller. Their work is born from an ancient certainty: Unum loquuntur omnia (all of reality proclaims one thing).
“In music, in the panorama of nature, in dreams at night (as Leopardi himself wrote in his Canto Notturno…), it is to something else that man pays homage, from which he expects something: he awaits it. His enthusiasm is for something that music, or everything that is beautiful in this world, has awakened within him. When a person begins to feel this, his soul immediately harks to await the other thing: even in the presence of what he can grasp, he awaits another thing; he grasps what he can grasp, but he awaits another thing.”
The original title of the work, performed for the first time in Moscow on March 10, 1915, is vsenocˇnoe bdenie which, translated literally, means all-night vigil. In Russian monasteries, in fact, the Vespers contain the office of Matins and Prime. The piece is an original universe of sound, in which every instant of music condenses centuries of tradition, which in turn is continually remolded in the incessant quest to give body and voice to the love of God, and to man who strains toward Him.
These Vespers by Rachmaninoff, in which earth joins heaven’s song, mask a full, certain, and at the same time restrained joy, a joy that has not yet totally exploded, as though awaiting its complete manifestation. Fra Angelico’s painting comes to mind, in which Jesus is depicted in the act of stopping Mary Magdalene, who wants to take hold of Him: “noli mi tangere, don’t touch me, I have not yet ascended to heaven, to take definitive possession of everything.” But the Risen Christ is there, present, alive. Christ, of whom all things consist, has already started to manifest His dominion over reality.