Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura

While Gidon Kremer’s premier version (below) is more compact, extrovert and focused, the Arditti/Richard version is more open spaced and clear as a bell. This version from Melise Mellinger (violin) and Salvatore Sciarrino (sound projection) is more exploratory.

Sciarrino refers to “La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura” as Nono’s diary, containing glimpses of the work’s creation; Sounds of the composer and Kremer talking, juxtaposed against moving furniture, electro-acoustic trains, etc. Sciarrino describes the tape as the music’s soul with the music itself being “discovered” alongside the pre-recorded sounds. Likewise, the performance seems to find itself along the way, taking the listener along, never knowing what to fully expect, even if this is not the first version encountered.

Sciarrino probes the life of those tapes as deeply as Kremer, and predictably takes it to its fullest, hour length (Kremer’s version is twenty minutes shorter).

Mellinger/Sciarrino discover lyricism underneath a white chaos and this performance certainly adds to and is a welcome addition to the composer’s recorded legacy.


Nono struggled greatly with ” La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura “, literally delivering it on the eleventh hour to Gidon Kremer.

The composer expressed doubt about the pre-recorded material and his ability to communicate an almost inexpressible spirituality. Later, he expanded it’s title and lengthened the work by about twenty minutes.
Kremer uses the earlier, shorter version and there’s little doubt that is a more extrovert performance.

Arditti uses the revised,longer version and,frankly, there’s both pluses and minuses.

While Kremer’s star soloist version revels in brazen colors, the Arditti begins with a piercing silver which shrieks, then dies, only to re-emerge as a whispering white.

There’s a truer sense of the work’s madrigal quality here and a more pronounced realization of a wanderer’s pathless travel.

While Arditti delivers a typically gutsy,thorny, bravo performance (with partnered sound projectionist Andre Richard delivering an equally zealous interpretation) there is,on first listen and in comparison to Kremer, reduced contrast and sagging tension,thus minimizing it’s accessibility.

On repeated listens, it becomes apparent the Arditti/Richard team is meticulous in realizing Nono’s wishes.

Struggling with this work is part of it’s inevitable reward and this performance demands a focused concentration.

The Kremer version remains the ideal introductory work, while the Arditti/Richard performance is the next plateau and is an absolutely essential alternative.


There’s something uniquely special about Gidon Kremer’s ” La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura” and even though there has, to date, been five different recordings of this late Nono composition,I suspect Kremer’s will remain the supreme “first” choice, but certainly not the only choice; The Arditti/Richard, Mellinger/Sciarrino and Merkel/Heiniger versions all have further and unique things to convey here.

For an introverted work that’s about a communicative struggle, Kremer’s interpretation seems decidedly self-assured and intensely focused.

While Kremer relishes the extrovert soloist’s spotlight, imbuing it with the richest of colors, his genuine love of the composer and composition is evident throughout and fully enhances the experience(and reading his essay on the composition is almost as illuminating as the performance itself).

Aptly, one does not come to terms easily with “Nostalgia for a Far Away, Future Utopia”, which makes the Kremer version all the more worthwhile and essential.

That said, one big misfire here is in the pairing with Kremer’s version of Nono’s valedictory work,” Hay que caminar”.

While Kremer’s version is a formidable one, it simply cannot compare to the sheer poetry of Arditti’s incomparable performance and immediately following “Utopia” with another work only seems to diminish an experience that should unquestionably end with silence.

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About Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is fine arts painter, filmmaker, and has a masters degree in theology. He currently lives in Portland, oregon with his wife: Aja Rossman-Gray.
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One Response to Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura

  1. Venkatesan Iyengar says:

    A very interesting and informative analysis.

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