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.
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.