Into which musical history does a work fit? To mirror-like effect, Stravinsky and Sciarrino draw upon the near or distant past and choose masters, Gesualdo or Stradella, the lives of whom were characterised by murderous violence and the ancient smell of blood. In their hands, we hear these voices from the past in a very different, utterly contemporary way.
During the winter of 1909-1910, Stravinsky began his first ballet, The Firebird, at the age of 27. Amidst golden apples and wavering feathers, a young prince, moved to pity, kills Kashchei, an ogre with green claws, and frees his captives. This "danced tale" is comprised of ancient Russian stories, fairy tales and the memory of The Golden Cockerel, an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, under whom Stravinsky had been a pupil. Its harmonic and orchestral colours have become legendary. If Salvatore Sciarrino, like Stravinsky, has elaborated madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo, Love & Fury is dedicated to another musician, Alessandro Stradella. In particular, it is dedicated to his oratorio San Giovanni Battista (1675) and to his last opera Il moro per amore (1681). Of course, the untimely death of this larger-than-life character, struck down by a hitman in Genoa, meant that he was never able to hear the latter piece. In this "songbook", Sciarrino celebrates the modernity of his lines, singing and forms, at a time when paintings were adorned from top to bottom with capricious, ecstatic portrayals of Salome and poisonous eroticism.