> Elisabetta Brusa - Firelights [HC] : Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Elisabetta BRUSA (born 1954)
Firelights (1992/3)
Adagio (1996)
Wedding Song (1997)
Requiescat (1994)
Suite Grotesque (1986)
Favole (1982/3)
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Fabio Mastrangelo
Recorded: Grand Studio, National Radio Company of Ukraine, June 2001
NAXOS 8.555267 [75:44]


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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 Requiescat.

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.

Hubert Culot

see also

Elisabetta 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
NAXOS 21ST CENTURY CLASSICS 8.555266 [75:37]

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