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Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909)
Piano Quintet in C major, Op. 45 (1878)
Piano Trio in C major, Op. 59 (1883)
Mario Borciani (piano)
Giovane Quartetto Italiano
Rec: Tonstudio van Geest, Sandhausen/Heidelberg, 5-8 March 1992
CLAVES CD 50-9210 [74:42]
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Giuseppe Martucci is perhaps best known as the teacher of Ottorino Respighi. He was one of the late 19th century Italian composers who chose to concentrate on symphonic and chamber and instrumental forms rather than opera. His music is influenced by central European Romanticism particularly the music of Schumann. It has a freshness and spontaneity unshackled by classical structural formality.

The Piano Quintet in C major of 1878 is a considerable edifice of some 35 minutes. The.Allegro giusto opens in sombre, hesitant mood with strong Schubertian overtones. This is soon followed by a melodious lyrical passage and the music progresses with much romance, passion and drama for, although German Romanticism is evident, there is also a strong sense of the grand Italian operatic style. There is too a mood of pastoral serenity and well-being. The Andante begins in tranquillity, the music flows like a gentle stream, melodious and calming. A sense of urgency builds up before the piano interrupts and order is restored.

Vigorous playing with much drama contrasts the Scherzo with the previous movement. It is mischievous and playful like squabbling kittens. Soon the piano introduces a cautious dark note before a short flourish concludes the movement. A beautiful, commanding sense of passion almost overwhelms in the fourth movement. The piano is frequently dominant but the players come together in masterful fashion to maintain the high standard of ensemble and musicianship displayed throughout the performance of this delightful work.

The Piano Trio in C Major composed five years later than the Piano Quintet is not as immediately appealing. It is another considerable work, lasting almost 40 minutes.

The concerto-like first movement is appealingly lyrical with contrasting grandiose material and moving meditative passages. Its middle section is dramatic yet poignant and the rapid yet florid piano writing imparts a sense of urgency. Calmer more plaintive music with the violin dominant brings the movement to a close.

The vigorous opening of the scherzo is assertive yet light-hearted. It trips along merrily but with some stern staccato piano interjections. A solemn cello declaration brings the music down to earth. The piano, in lower register, makes a firm statement of grave, dark musings yet lyricism is triumphant. After an easing of tension, more agitated darker music is heard. The cello sounds a note of caution and the trio come together and close the movement with a firm statement.

The opening section of the Andante is soft and mellow. The simplistic cantabile style remains constant for most of the movement. Unexciting yet captivating.

What a finale! It opens with a dramatic tutti, played with stern resolution. Here the Schumann influence is very strong. Romance and drama abound. There is a determination to demonstrate the freedom that Martucci was anxious to maintain. The final few bars are wonderfully florid and playful allowing the players to show off their virtuosity.

If you enjoy chamber music and like to be adventurous, this is a safe recommendation. The music is accessible, bold and melodic and the works are performed with enthusiasm and élan.


Grace Lace



 


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Piano Quintet in C major, Op.45
Allegro giusto
Andante con Moto
Scherzo. Allegro vivace
Finale. Allegro con brio

Piano Trio in C major, Op.59
Allegro giusto
Scherzo. Allegro molto
Andante
Finale. Allegro risoluto


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