"Mr. Biscardi's 'Di Vivere' for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano arguably 'connected' with Debussy in the sense that it was concerned with the subtleties of changing texture within sustained pitch-fields and the not-so-subtle process of intensification through expansion of register. As performed by the Da Capo players at Carnegie Recital Hall it was successful."
"Di Vivere is intended to 'suggest the fluctuating intensities of being alive' through the 'inward and outward directed music of the clarinet and piano.' Heavily pedaled piano arpeggios (using harmonies and, occasionally, textures reminiscent of Messiaen), create a series of sound waves, ebbing and flowing in time. The virtuoso clarinet part emerges out of this sonorous blur like an afterimage; held notes are interrupted by sudden leaps, which soon develop into difficult, candenza-like runs up and down the entire range of the instrument. The piece's slowly changing harmonies are heard through passages of sustained chords and swirling ostinatos, in which the flute and two strings participate. the three instruments are clearly subordinate, although each has its own brief solo; they function primarily to reinforce mood and color. Di Vivere, whose actual performance time is closer to eleven minutes than the eight indicated in the score, should make a fine recital piece for a clarinetist seeking an example of postwar impressionism."
Di Vivere (1981) is written for the now-traditional Pierrot quintet, and has the strongest Uptown sound of any work on this program. In its athletic tussle and pitch centers' arrivals announced in ringing unisons, it reminds one of Wuorinen.
Mestiere and Di Vivere are companion works of a sort, in that their titles are taken from two halves of the collected journals of twentieth century Italian writer Cesare Pavese (1908-50), Il Mestiere di Vivere ('The Business of Living'). Biscardi says that they may be performed together, Di Vivere either as a quintet for clarinet in A and piano, with flute, violin and cello, as here, or as a duo for the clarinet and piano alone. Mestiere is a short, ponderous, atonal piece, and serves as a prelude to the more immediately attractive Di Vivere, which was commissioned by and premiered in 1982 by the Da Capo Players themselves – flautist Patricia Spencer and cellist André Emilianoff are, amazingly, still in this splendid ensemble's line-up.
Di Vivere (1981) is a quiet and rather blocky study in colors written for the Da Capo Chamber Players (flute, violin, clarinet, cello, and piano). Attractive and sensual, it is typical of the more laid-back academic chamber music of its time.
Other than Berio's piece, the earliest work was Chester Biscardi's Di Vivere (1981), commissioned by Da Capo, with major roles for clarinet and piano, and supporting ones for flute, violin, and cello. An extended piano sequence introduces the clarinet, which becomes wildly florid, after which the other three tiptoe in. But rhapsodic sequences are countered by long, sustained chords, and the clarinet has the last word, a low murmur. The quintet captured Biscardi's sober mood with disarming subtlety.