The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (299): Berio-back singing

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (299): Berio-back singing


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2021

I’ve always loved these settings that Luciano Berio made for Cathy Berberian. Different times, different voice.

Love this, too.



  • JussiB says:

    The Berio ‘finale’ of Puccini’s Turandot I heard many years ago still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There’s more by Berio that causes remarkable physical disturbances: stomach pains, sudden bowel movements with entirely unexpected gass development, back ailments and – in one case in Milan in 1983 – serious arm pit infection after hearing three sequenzas in a row. But the well-documented case of sudden collective amorous confessions during a performance of Sinfonia at the Barbican in 1997 is considered an ample compensation for these sufferings.

  • Simon Hall says:

    That’s the first Berio piece I’ve enjoyed. However nobody beats Nina Simone with ‘Black is the colour of my true love’s hair’.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The music is hauntingly beautiful, and I think the performances are fully up to the level of the music.
    Bravi and bravissimi to all involved!
    (An aside: the female violist shown at about 0:25 on seems to me to be playing one of the largest violas I think I have ever seen. Violists amongst the commenters – am I right, or are there larger ones?)

  • John Borstlap says:

    The suspicion is, that Berio ‘actually’ wanted to write ‘normal’, tonal music, instead of the avantgarde experiments that made him ‘famous’, and that he could indulge his secret wishes under the cover of folklore settings, and the instrumentation of Brahms’ viola sonata. Setting existing folk songs offered an excuse. If he had written music in the style of his Folk Songs, he would have been condemned and excluded from the new music scene. But he would have been welcomed by the concert circuit. Those were the times.

  • E says:

    Wonderfully poetic ideas and themes…
    love especially the flamboyant last song!

  • Westfan says:

    Some very nice wind playing!