Atlas non-finito takes its name from the art of the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo. Housed in the Accaemia del arte in Florence, the famous David stands in a beautiful rotunda designed to showcase Michelangelo’s monumental work. Along the corridor leading to the David are four, sometimes overlooked, unfinished sculptures; also by Michelangelo. During my visits to Florence, I fell in love with these sculptures. These sculptures had so much energy and excitement. When I looked at these sculptures, I could see the movement and the struggle that was taking place in each of these figures. I found myself imagining that one of the sculptures came to life and ripped itself out of the marble.
This piece takes the listener on a journey depicting the awakening of the sculpture trapped inside the marble. In a Harold in Italy style musical treatment, the solo cello becomes the protagonist in this story of a Descartes-like awakening, becoming self-aware, struggling, and bargaining with its imprisoner. The cellist gets to a point where he can feel potential freedom, and the music changes to a lyrical singing character. That hope quickly dissipates as the captor tightens its grip and constricts the cellist pulling him down and preventing escape. The cellist tries one last time to escape, but alas, there was never a chance to escape.
Premier Performance, 4/28/2017
Houston Civic Symphony; Brian Runnels, Conductor;
Norman Fisher, Cello