…from the earth…


Sergio Cervetti, who gave the first of two identical programs of his work at the Kitchen on Friday night, seems mostly concerned at the moment with the protraction of bits of past music into extended, dreamlike continuums.  Now 33 years old, Mr. Cervetti was born in Uruguay and studied in Baltimore, Berlin and New York; he now teaches here. By far the most interesting piece on Friday’s program was the last, “…from the earth…” (1972).  “…from the earth…” worked because tiny fragments and the lush, autumnal overall mood of the bit from the last movement of Mahler’s ”Lied von der Erde” that served as its inspiration pervaded the score.  Mr. Cervetti’s intentions of “slowing down time, like seeing sounds through a microscope” worked well, have indeed, with burbling new melodies and figurations from the nine-member chamber ensemble filling out the spaces between the skeletal notes. 

—The New York Times, John Rockwell, April 27, 1975


The most memorable of the evening’s works was "…from the earth…" by Sergio Cervetti.  (Performed by the Philadelphia Composers’ Forum under the direction of Joel Thome at the VII Inter-American Music Festival, May 24, 1976 in Washington D.C.)  It begins as a set of variations on a single note and gradually grows in intensity and diversity until a simple consonant chord is reached.  A quiet climax gradually recedes into a tender, gentle silence.  It is a straightforward and touching composition, and obviously the work of a gifted creator.

—HIGH FIDELITY/Musical America, Irving Lowens, September 1976


It is rather pastoral…An ensemble play soft sustained tones, drawing on only a few pitches at a time. Every few minutes the composer gives a cue from the organ and they shift to a slightly different set of pitches.  The quiet music drifts on serenely for perhaps 15 minutes and then, rather surprisingly, settles onto a major chord.  The major chord music goes on for a few more minutes, with the players shifting independently from one pitch to another, as they do throughout the piece.  I found out later that the score is actually a vastly expanded version of a few bars of Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde.”…Where Mahler took several seconds for each chord, Cervetti takes several minutes.  I think this is a wonderful idea, and the piece made a nice impression.   

—The Village Voice, Tom Johnson, January 11, 1973



OCEAN  -   Movie


Ocean, choreographed to …from the earth…, by Linda Tarnay.


NOTE: Sergio Cervetti and Linda Tarnay, choreographer, dancer and teacher, were long-time colleagues and collaborators on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Tarnay’s “Ocean” marks an adventurous beginning—a way of using this role concept more loosely and more strangely. Seven men and women.  A glowing sun on the back wall (Edward Byers’s lighting created it).  Sergio Cervetti’s music (“…from the earth…”) a constant hot quivering.  The dancers surging in wave patterns, building ebb and flow or spurting up.  The dancers picking along like sea birds or lying like lovers on a beach.  Wearing their roles casually, but seriously without pretense.  Beautiful.

—The Village Voice, Deborah Jowitt, December 1, 1975


When “Ocean” began, with all the dancers rolling and rising successively from the floor, I was mildly irritated with Tarnay for imitating Doris Humprey’s “Water Study” (1928) a masterpiece of abstraction, a distillation of mood and energy in very simple movement.  Tarnay, like everyone in the present modern dance generation, was after more complex images, wanted to use the dancers more demandingly and confront the audience more directly.


Soon, as she advanced into it, I began to enjoy the dance as a piece of its time, not a cluttered reworking of someone else’s ideas.  Passing from the wavelike energy surges on the floor, the dance evolved into suggestions of life—the pecking, sharp-eyed gestures of birds and the braced solidity you see when sea birds roost or fly into the wind; and later the sensuous embraces, stretches and falls that could be an extension of the way you feel on the beach when the water and the sun seem to take over your breathing and melt your bones.


Sergio Cervetti’s effective minimal score (“…from the earth…”) used various instruments feeding into a single sustained tone, to give a changing sonic texture and harmonic reinforcement to a constant floor of sound.

—The Soho Weekly News, Marcia B. Siegel, September 16, 1976


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