Elisabetta Brusa studied at the Milan Conservatory
graduating in 1980. Later she followed composition courses at the Dartington
Summer School of Music and at the Tanglewood Music Centre. She also
studied with Hans Keller whom she considers her "spiritual enlightener
and mentor" and to whose memory she dedicated her orchestral work
The earliest work here, Favole, completed
in 1983, "is a work for young people, and the not so young".
It is based on several well-known fables by Aesop, Andersen, La Fontaine
and Perrault. This suite of seven short, neatly characterised movements
is a good example of Brusa’s happy music making and remarkable orchestral
mastery. Colourfully scored and superbly crafted music it is in turn
serious and humorous, tender and mildly ironic, tuneful and mildly dissonant.
This is the sort of work that could and should be as popular with young
(and not so young) audiences as the celebrated Peter and the Wolf
or L’Histoire de Babar.
Much of the same could be said of the Suite Grotesque
of 1986, though the music is appropriately more ironic and whimsical.
Firelights and Wedding Song are somewhat
lighter in mood, and the former is again a brilliant orchestral showpiece
in much the same vein as Stravinsky’s Fireworks.
Both Adagio for strings completed in
1996 and Requiescat of 1994 are altogether more serious
in intent. The beautiful Adagio is overtly a near-cousin
of Barber’s ubiquitous similarly titled piece. The writing for strings
is again remarkably assured. As already mentioned, Requiescat
is dedicated to the memory of Hans Keller. This is a deeply-felt, often
moving elegy (it ends with a treble voice softly singing the words Requiescat
in pace); and, no doubt, the major work here.
Elisabetta Brusa’s music, which was new to me, is fairly
traditional, colourfully scored, mildly dissonant, in a freely tonal
manner. As such, it is quite accessible, often entertaining and often
quite attractive. No great masterpieces here, maybe, but honest and
sincere music making that repays repeated hearings, especially in fine
performances and recording such as these.
BRUSA (b. 1954) Orchestral Works: Florestan, Messidor,
La Triade, Nittemero Symphony, Fanfare
National Symphony Orchestra
of Ukraine/Fabio Mastrangelo
Recorded June 2001, in Kiev DDD
CENTURY CLASSICS 8.555266 [75:37]