Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Greatest Composer Nobody's Ever Heard Of?

[Editor's Note: This, obviously, has absolutely nothing to do with the mission statement of this blog, for which I beg your indulgence. However, it IS about a subject I've wanted to write about somewhere at some time for ages, but it wasn't until I actually heard some of the music for the first time -- last week -- that I felt the time was right. Also, for reasons I needn't get into, it pisses off a certain Sparky. I thank you. -- S.S.]


I got interested in this guy 40 years ago, at the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW, when I chanced across his entry while browsing the office copy of Grove's. Alas, I had never heard any of his music -- none of which as far as I can determine has ever been commercially recorded -- until last week, when I discovered an 11 minute excerpt from one of his oratorios apparently recorded live, somewhere, by who knows who...

...and assuming it is, actually, what it's attributed to be, I must say it has a certain Gothic austerity and atmosphere that I find compelling, although obviously it's too brief an excerpt to really make an informed judgement on the guy's oeuvre.

However, it really doesn't matter whether Raimondi's stuff is major or merely contrapuntal wallpaper, because he attempted something so wonderfully grand and/or meshugenah he deserves respect no matter what. That aforementioned oratorio was the second of a cycle of three, which were designed to be played sequentially, in three nights, and than SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE FOURTH. This was actually done in 1852 (apparently the only time) and the audience reaction on the fourth night was apparently tumultuous , with the composer -- who conducted -- fainting dead away from excitement.

This is a folie a une all but unprecedented in the history of Western art; the only thing I can think of to compare to, for its sheer outsized audacity and scale, is D.W. Griffith attempting to create a film fugue with Intolerance.

And if I was a rich person, I would stage performances of the Raimondi oratorios with the best musicians money could buy, and record the whole thing in Dolby 5.1. for both CD and video.

My god, can you imagine what a glorious noise this would be...

UPDATE: Turns out that second Oratorio is available on a 2009 CD that I've just ordered over at Amazon HERE. I'm dying of curiosity.


steve simels said...

Note to self: incredibly obscure 19th century Italian guys even less interesting to readers than feared.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm listening to it right now and it's a lot more engaging then poor maligned (by me) Jason Falkner.

Great find!

Allan R.

jackd said...

Can't claim an interest in Raimondi, but the idea of three oratorios played simultaneously reminds me of Chris Stamey's "McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)" wherein his narrator says something about playing _Metal Machine Music_ on his stereo while his girlfriend has "Diamonds and Rust" playing on hers. While Stamey was touring for the album, he was a guest on Vin Scelsa's show and damned if Vin didn't try it out. An interesting listening experience, it was.