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Luigi DALLAPICCOLA (1904-1975)
A Portrait

Sonatina Canonica in mi bemolle, su ‘Capricci’ di Niccolò Paganini (1942-43) [11:22]
Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera (1952) [16:37]
Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado per canto e pianoforte (1948) [8:15]
Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio per violoncello solo (1945) [16:14]
Goethe-Lieder per una voce di mezzo soprano e tre clarinetti (1953) [7:51]
Tre episodi dal balletto MARSIA (1949) [13:55]
Susan Hamilton (soprano)
Nicola Stonehouse (mezzo)
Robert Irvine (cello)
David Wilde (piano)
Katie Lockhart (E flat clarinet)
Colin Blamey (B flat clarinet)
Marianne Rawles (bass clarinet in B flat)
rec. December 2003, St Mary’s Parish Church, Haddington, Scotland; January 2005,St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London; February 2005, Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh; April 2005, Gartmore Parish Church, Scotland
DELPHIAN DCD34020 [74:12]



This is an expertly programmed and very finely performed selection. David Wilde is the motor and he displays a sure affinity with Dallapiccola sufficient to warrant admiration. In the Sonatina Canonica he handles the occasionally epigrammatic and more often fulsome rhetoric of the counterpoint with real command. The second movement’s canonic writing is nevertheless expressive in his hands and the third movement – utilising Paganini’s Eleventh Caprice – has its deserved share of mordancy.

Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera is a decade’s later work, having been written in 1952. Dedicated to his young daughter it consists of deftly characterised and yet sometimes inscrutable miniatures utilising a tone row. As an example of Dallapiccola’s serialism it makes for divertingly concentrated listening. Bach lies behind the theory – which is in truth not especially off-putting. Wilde is at his very and considerable best in the Andantino amoroso e contrapuntus where we hear gently drizzled treble.

The Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio for cello and piano was commissioned by Gasper Cassadó and was the first of the composer’s serial work to be publicly performed. Fortunately not only did Cassadó have important technical advice to offer but he also played the work widely, bringing it to prominence. The variational form is written with mastery though it’s not always entirely comfortable for a listener unversed in the intricacies of Dallapiccola’s writing – and in particular the canonic writing. Powerful and intense it may be – but also occasionally wintry.

There are also songs. Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado consists of four Spanish songs and felicitously explores the tone row. For all that they are not at all desolate and range from the – once again – epigrammatic to the more generous and commanding drama of the last. This forms a satisfying contrast, with both opening and closing poems marshalling withdrawal and dynamism as their engines. The Goethe-Lieder are written for the highly unusual combination of voice and three clarinets - E flat, B flat and a bass clarinet in B flat. Whilst the songs are variously austere, charged, concentrated, spare and fierce the clarinets bring a sense of colour and texture that keeps interest intensely alive. The ballet episodes from Marsia are powerful and pungent examples of his late 1940s work but with a death episode of refinement and limpid liquidity.

Not for everyone of course, as there are those who may find Dallapiccola somewhat unyielding. The performances and recording however are first class; the notes are inclined to be rather academic.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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