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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Cheshire Cat Blog > 2014
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February 2014
Carlo Domeniconi plays Berlin at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The world renowned guitarist and composer Carlo Domeniconi is playing
another series of small, intimate concerts in Berlin. Fans of his work
can see him play in the German capital for a ticket price of 7 euros.
The Cheshire Cat reveals one of the insider tips of the year.

Italian guitarist Carlo Domeniconi has performed in concert halls and at festivals around the world for over three decades. His performances and recordings and interpretations of his compositions by other renowned musicians (John Williams, David Russell, Alvaro Pierri, Dale Kavanagh, Marco Socías, the LAGQ, Pavel Steidel and Shin-ichi Fukuda, to name but a few), ensembles and orchestras have made him one the planet's best known contemporary composers.

Domeniconi's more than 150 works, written for a variety of instruments, instrumental groupings and orchestras, reveal his fascination for a wide variety of tonal, spiritual and cultural landscapes. He has drawn inspiration from Turkish, Japanese and Russian folk songs, Indian ragas, Argentinian tango, Asian and European poetry, literature and folk tales (including Don Quixote, The Little Prince, Robin Hood and the Welsh Will o' the wisp Ellylldan), Renaissance and Baroque dance music, circus music, jazz, blues and the electrifying sound of Jimi Hendrix. He has also written and performed for theatre and dance (particularly Eurythmy) productions.

Many of his pieces deal with themes of spiritual search, contemplation, transformation and transcendence. Of his 1990 solo guitar piece Illuminata piece he wrote:

"The Latin title means 'everything which is illuminated'. The idea of this piece came from the image of a soul fighting for inner beauty but hindered by the temptations of the sensual world."

Musical transcendence is also an important aspect of his works, particularly in the way he has sought to synthesize components from the music of disparate cultures. Such works embody Goethe's maxim:

"He who knows himself and others will also know:
orient and occident can no longer be separated." [1]

Michel Lydon, writing in Soundboard magazine, commented:

"Domeniconi’s music seeks repeatedly the synthesis of East and West. He seems able to take the quintessence of different cultures and tell them anew. A hypnotic inevitability goes through his music."

One of his most successful compositions in this respect has also become his most famous. Koyunbaba, developed from a guitar improvisation first played in Gümüslük, Turkey in 1984, is laced with elements of Turkish traditional music. It grew into a full-blown orchestral piece, performed on instruments such as the Turkish saz (baglama).

For players, the levels of difficulty across Domenicon's works present a rich topography of gradients, from "easier" didactic pieces for students practising various techniques, through more complex, virtuoso works with long cadenzas and unusual tunings, harmonics and effects (e.g overtone singing), to extraordinarily labyrinthine oevres, including free tonal and free-form pieces, and improvisations which the composer himself admits are practically impossible to transcribe as scores.

There are lyric works and rhythmic works; those that are very short and those that are pretty long (the longest so far is Opus 49, Sindbad, at 95 minutes); the complex and the simple.

"The eternal theme - to produce beautiful music with few sounds - is ... difficult!!! However, here is another attempt."

Carlo Domeniconi on Opus 124, Zwölf leichte Duos (Twelve easy duets)

A broad spectrum of moods is also evident over the body of his works, from light, humorous, magical and fantastical, through wild, crazy, ecstastic and heroic, to dark, mysterious, esoteric and passionate (the fugues). One piece even imitates the sounds of the volcano Stromboli (Opus 53d, Suoni di Stromboli, for contrabass).

Since 2004 Domeniconi has been steadily rerecording many of his compositions for the CD series Selected Works, of which six have already been released, with Selected Works VII due out at the end of this year.

Domeniconi's world wanderings meant that his friends, fans and students of his works in Berlin had few opportunities to see him play live in his adoptive home city, where he has lived and worked since 1966. To correct this inbalance, he gave a number of small concerts in Berlin in 2009, and the consequent annual series has since become something of a tradition here.

The monthly concerts are very Berlin: informal, intimate, friendly events in small theatres, art galleries and churches. Domeniconi usually performs solo, though occasionally he is joined onstage by a singer (for instance Özlem Kaveller) or other musicians.

A highlight of the annual concert calendar is the February "... alle Jahre wieder ..." gig (literally, every year again), a four-hour long concert featuring a number of guest musicians and a dance performance, to celebrate the composer's birthday. This year's event is on Saturday 8th February, from 6 pm (for details see links below), with guests Jaime Muthesius, Terukaku Yamashita and Julia Schüler.

With a ticket price of 7 euros, these events are astonishing bargains, and music lovers visiting or living in Berlin are recommended to book without delay.


Details of Carlo Domeniconi concerts in Berlin:

Information auf Deutsch:

The Berlin concerts are organized by Birgit Hering.
Future planned concerts will include artists' exhibitions
and discussions about particular compositions.

Carlo Domeniconi official website, featuring a list of his
compositions and details of the CD series Selected Works
(in English and German):

Carlo Domeniconi, guitarist and composer at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Carlo Domeniconi,
guitarist and composer
Carlo Domeniconi, Selected Works V - 25 years Koyunbaba CD cover

Cover of Carlo Domeniconi's 2009 CD
Selected Works V - 25 years Koyunbaba, containing three versions of the work
and two improvisations
Postcard for Carlo Domeniconi concerts in Berlin, March - June 2014

Postcard for Carlo Domeniconi concerts
in Berlin, March - June 2014
Carlo Domeniconi performing at Theater o. N., Berlin at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Carlo Domeniconi performing an improvisation at
Theater o. N., Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, October 2012.

1. Orient and occident...

This oft-quoted verse by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is from the short poem Zum Divan (On the divan), first published in 1833, after his death. The exact date of its composition appears to be unknown; more than one source states 1826. It was not, as is often asserted, part of Goethe's lyrical poetry collection West-östlicher Diwan, written 1814-1819, as first published in 1819, but was added to later editions in an appendix titled "Gedichte aus dem Nachlaß" (unpublished poems from Goethe's estate). There appears to be at least two versions:


Wer sich selbst und andere kennt,
Wird auch hier erkennen:
Orient und Okzident
Sind nicht mehr zu trennen.

Und mag die ganze Welt versinken,
Hafis, mit dir, mit dir allein
Will ich wetteifern! Lust und Pein
Sei uns, den Zwillingen, gemein!
Wie du zu lieben und zu trinken,
Das soll mein Stolz, mein Leben sein.

Wer sich selbst und Andre kennt,
Wird auch hier erkennen:
Orient und Okzident
Sind nicht mehr zu trennen.

Sinnig zwischen beiden Welten
Sich zu wiegen lass' ich gelten;
Also zwischen Ost und Westen
Sich bewegen, sei's zum Besten!
Photos and article copyright © David John 2009-2014

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