Omaggio a Giuseppe Ungaretti, the second Recital album of composer Loren Rush (b. 1935), contrasts the orchestral grandeur of last year’s LP Dans le Sable with plaintive just intonation piano improvisations. Loren Rush has been active in the Bay Area new music scene since the late 1950s alongside composers such as Terry Riley, Robert Erickson, and Pauline Oliveros, and also co-founded Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics in 1975. His music has been performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Though few of Rush’s compositions have been published, he has garnered deep respect from his peers and colleagues over the decades.
The album is directly inspired by poems from “L’allegria” (The Joy, 1914-1919), the collection of poetry by Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888, Egypt – 1970, Italy) written in the trenches of World War I. During these brutal years Ungaretti struggled to maintain his humanity by creating the most beautiful images he could imagine and by recalling experiences of his earlier life in Alexandria and Paris. By this, he both revolutionized Italian poetry and demonstrated that the creation of beauty is a most effective life preserver and political statement.
Rush’s melancholy preludes are treated with The Enhanced Piano in Just Intonation, developed at Good Sound Foundation by the composer and Alfred Owens. The process electronically enhances and increases perceived resonance, sustaining, coloristic and expressive capabilities. Just intonation describes a system of tuning in which the greatest level of consonance and resonance is achieved by adjusting intervals to the whole-number ratios of the harmonic series, the natural mode of vibration. The suite concludes with the silken chamber piece Mattina (Morning), reflecting Ungaretti’s stark words, “I illumine me, with immensity.” The addition of violin and cello suspends the listener in a prolonged space of dread and beauty.