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Luigi DALLAPICCOLA (1904-1975)
Complete works for violin and for piano

Sonatina canonica su capricci di Paganini (1943) [9.44]
Tre episodi dal baletto ‘Marsia’ (1949) [13.29]
Quaderno musicale di Annalibera (1951-52) [15.14]
Inni – musica per tre pianoforte (1935) [11.13]
Due studi, for violin and piano (1946-47) [9.50]
Tartiniana seconda, for violin and piano (1956) [11.31]
Roberto Prosseda (piano)
Duccio Ceccanti (violin)
Recorded at the Teatro Sperimentale, Ancona, August 2003
NAXOS 8.557676 [71.02]

Dallapiccola was frugal compositionally and it’s a measure of that level of concision that his entire work for piano, and for violin and piano duo, should occupy a bare seventy minutes – six pieces of music. They span the years 1935-1956 and though he published nothing before 1932 they can be considered essentially the fruits of his mid period.

The Sonatina canonica su capricci di Paganini was his first work for solo piano. It’s a tightly argued homage to Paganini and written in four short movements. The opening plays on a contrast between limpid treble delicacy and a more obviously pointed statement of Paganinian melody before returning in a gentle arc to the opening flecked statements. He takes care to present a subtly harmonised Paganini theme in the slow movement – two minutes in length – and ends with a "wrong-key" march to bring some sportive humour to the proceedings.

Dallapiccola recycled material from his successful 1948 ballet Marsia for concert and instrumental use. In the following year, for example, he compiled a three-movement piece for solo piano, which is recorded here. This shows an intense immersion in impressionist techniques – quite remarkably so for the time – and the opening is a veritable wash of impressionist colour and texture. A motoric study acts as some muscular ballast in the middle movement whilst in the last there is a definable play between an uneasy stasis and more tensile, active figures.

For his daughter’s eighth birthday he wrote Quaderno musicale di Annalibera and it proves to be attractive if not necessarily memorable. Rhythmic insistence jostles with a warmly stated canon and equally a certain amount of reflective, rather withdrawn writing (try the Ombre section).

We go back to 1935 for Inni, his first published instrumental piece, which was written for three pianos - a rather unreasonable demand here met via multi-tracking by Roberto Prosseda. Jaunty baroque haunts this one, not least the opening and the last of the three movements, which is a bouncy dialogue. The Due studi derive from a documentary on the life of Piero della Francesca which, though it failed to appear, gave Dallapiccola the material for these two studies, a Sarabande and a Fanfare and Fugue. In the Sarabande the piano remains rather elliptical and reserved whilst the violin pirouettes over it and this forms an immediate contrast with the second movement which thrives on decisive angularity of attack.

Finally there is Tartiniana seconda, once more for violin and piano. This was written in 1956 and further cements his affinity with Italian violinistic lore. As he showed with his tribute to Paganini the identification with earlier musics was strong. Here the fluid and lyric Pastorale work well with the evocation of Tartini’s style in the Bourée – a procedure once or twice removed. This in turn leads on to the double stopping and variations of the finale. One feels the tribute is a protean one not a reductive pastiche.

The note and performances are equally persuasive. There are few outrageous technical demands though considerable ones on matters of stylistic judgement and they are all met with authority. As a body of work it occupies a relatively slender place in Dallapiccola’s output but it certainly reflects his concerns and inspirations – and also his reworkings and self-borrowings – with appreciably enjoyable results.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 



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