Afterthought (about a Shakespearean tragedy) (2005)

for orchestra


This composition of “reflections on a Shakespearean tragedy” was inspired by Battistelli’s own opera, Richard III, and there are clear references to many elements from it. Yet, Afterthought is not a suite of previously written music, but rather a fusion of retrospections and fresh perspectives that have given life to a bold, granite-like orchestral piece with striking features carved from the very first notes: thirty-eight lashing fortissimo chords that leave the audience breathless and catapult it into living, current drama. Battistelli stated that he began to compose this piece on July 7, 2005 during the London bombings, thus juxtaposing these sounds into a score permeated with the vividness of a slaughter. With the incessant roll of the timpani and the brutal bowing of the strings, the rhythmic scheme unravels in alarming clusters. From the row of brass instruments, imposing towers rise menacingly and loom over an unexpected agogic accent played over accelerated improvisations. The listener’s breath is shortened at first, but then relaxes and deepens in the end: masses of sound dissolve into a gigantic glissando of strings led by a mysterious emblematic tempo as the vibrations of the harp and celesta extend over a vast segment of harmonics. The finale is a dreamlike vision where the furious overflow of the orchestra recedes from the banks of an operatic theme that deteriorates and evaporates into the echo of a spent tragedy.

First performance:

Roma, Stagione Sinfonica 2005-2006, Sala Santa Cecilia, 26 novembre 2005
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Antonio Pappano, conductor 

ott b 2.cfg / / 3 perc, arpa, cel / archi

Commissioned by: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Dedicated to: Antonio Pappano

Duration: 15’  

Score number catalogue Ricordi: (139526)