The great Brian Eno, the undisputed contemporary master, music theorist, acclaimed producer, the inventor of ambient music and the brilliant innovator of the language of modern music has made a very special gift to the Great Gallery, the 18th century masterpiece by the architect Filippo Juvarra and the symbol of the splendor of Venaria Reale: an original soundtrack.
I started writing “12 Seasons. Music for the Great Gallery” in my studio in London. I had seen pictures and plans of the Reggia di Venaria and I was confident I had found the right approach: I worked for a few weeks on a track that I brought to the Reggia for testing in May 2012.
When I listened to it in the extraordinary context of the Great Gallery, however, I realized that it was not right. What I had composed - in my studio in London, wrapped up in England’s grey climate - was introspective and somewhat dark. There was not doubt in my mind that it was an “interior” track. What is most striking about the Great Gallery - and you realise as much only when you step into it - is that it is soaked in light and space: nothing further from an “interior” feeling. Juvarra had designed it to invite the world to get in, so it seemed appropriate that music should exist inside as well as outside of space, almost like a cloud or an atmosphere that would envelop the construction from the outside.
Conceptually, this music is similar to other works I did around forty years ago (e.g., Discreet Music, 1975). I am still deeply fascinated by the range of transformations that are possible starting with a limited “stock” of original notes, and this piece is a perfect example in this sense. Nevertheless, there is also a new starting point. Building on the Reggia’s “classical” imprint, I wanted to make sure that the track was made up of several “movements” rather than a single block. Thus only 4 or 5 or 6 of the original 7 sounds I had decided to work with will eventually be used in each section. This means that the emotional quality of each section is slightly different, and as it progresses, the piece evolves and takes on different overtones.
I love the Great Gallery of La Venaria, it is a sort of secular cathedral, and I hope that my music will encourage more people to spend time in the Gallery than it is normally the case. Brian Eno
12 Seasons. Music for the Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria, in its final version, is made up of two 1-hour tracks consisting of 12 sections each.
Only four speakers are in place, two at the entrance and two at the end of the Gallery, all facing the center of the hall. Visitors walking down the Gallery are wrapped into two distincts sound flows: as they approach the center of the hall, echoes of the sounds behind turn into a memory that blend in the soft reverberations of the sounds that lay ahead.
The two movements that are complete when they meet at the heart of the Gallery. The sound tracks are made of melodic cores that are sketched and whispered, with the warmer sound of real violins in place of samplings. Pauses and silences play with the peculiar reverberation effect. The sounds are remarkably persistent before dissolving into the space, each engaged in a potentially endless chase, floating in the air, altering the perception of the Great Gallery, expanding its volumes and filling it with a different light.
Music thus becomes an “essential constituent” of the Gallery, like a color, a scent, almost a newly crafted decoration - after the ones designed by the architects Juvarra and Alfieri. Music as a complement to space".