Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Nicolas FLAGELLO (1928-1994)
Declamation for violin and piano (1967)
Nocturne for violin and piano (1969)
Prelude, Ostinato and Fugue for piano (1960)
Piano Sonata (1962)
Violin Sonata (1963)
Suite for harp and string trio (1965)
Setsuko Nagata (violin)
Peter Vinograde (piano)
Alyssa Reit (harp)
David Creswell (viola)
Matthias Naegele (cello)
rec 7 Dec 1994 (piano sonata); 10, 13 June 1996, Manhattan School of Music
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Albany USA are one of those companies whose existence you might not even suspect. Their catalogue is accessible on the website but promotion is not something they spend much on.

Flagello is prime Albany territory. American. Always in hazard of being lost in the gap zone between Hanson and Piston, Flagello, is both spiky, irate and rhapsodic as proclaimed by the unmistakably powerful Declamation. Bloch and Bax indeed. The rhapsodic route is taken in the romantic Nocturne which might just as easily be from a Bergian West Side Story. The violin sonata is dank, mossy, melancholy and ending with capering eldritch activity. The quicker music is touched with shades of Shostakovich.

The two big solo piano works on this disc, each in three movements, are separated by only three years. The Sonata's Andante and Allegro Vivace movements are of some nether world of the mind. Flagello also manages to set off irritable echoes of the Prokofiev wartime sonatas. He can rise to angry eloquence too as in the romantic recitative. This achieves the heights scaled by Frank Bridge in his own Great War sonata. The tripartite work from 1960 is similarly haunted but no movement is more than four minutes long.

Vinograde is a player well able to breast the tornadoes and whirlpools of this music. These pieces would have been natural fodder for John Ogdon or indeed for Van Cliburn.

The little Suite is after a Ravelian model sporting delicacy, nonchalant tendresse and gambolling athleticism.

Flagello, multi-talented, was also a gifted painter. His 'Roman Forum' decorates the CD cover.

The experience is completed by dedicated notes from Walter Simmons who first brought this and the Giannini, Flagello, Gould disc to my attention.

Rob Barnett

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