MALIPIERO (1882-1973) Fantasie di Ogni Giorni (1953) [13:04]
Concerto No.3 for Piano and Orchestra (1948) [16:27] Notturno di Canti e Balli (1957) [19:05]
Louisville Orchestra/Robert Whitney
rec. Louisville, 1954 (Fantasie), 1960 (Concerto) and 1966
(Notturno) FIRST EDITION FECD
Louisville series, newly revivified, confirms once more how
the many commissions, first performances and recordings fed
into the stratum of twentieth century music-making. This
Malipiero disc reinforces the point. It’s inevitable given
this focus that single composer discs will throw up timings
that by current standards one would find unacceptable. This
one, for instance, runs forty-nine minutes. Nevertheless
the whole nature of the endeavour is such that collectors
will want these recordings irrespective of timing considerations,
so well has the work been accomplished.
was commissioned by Louisville for the Fantasie and
the Concerto. All three pieces however received premiere
recordings under the orchestra under Robert Whitney between
1954 and 1966. The Fantasie di Ogni Giorni – Fantasies
of Every Day - opens gently with some distinctly Bergian
refractions; gathering pace from around 4:40 the writing
becomes more loquacious and brassy, with feints towards fugato
and a deal of dissonant traffic. It’s a kind of day journal-fantasy
though it seems perfectly explicable – if not always likeable – on
first hearing merely as a passage from quietude to drama.
Owen plays the Third Piano Concerto, a three-movement work
that seems to cleave to the model of anti-heroic, vaguely
neo-classical diatonic. The soloist has plenty of pliant
rather withdrawn chording but the strings don’t take advantage
of their opportunities – limited it’s true – to sing out.
In the central tableau we find things rather static. A pregnant
gravity infiltrates, then more overtly romantic writing.
The finale offers far more opportunities for conventional
display but Malipiero also serves up some more neo-baroque
reflectiveness as well. It all ends decisively “up in the
air.” Rather a hard work to get to terms with – not so much
its narrative continuity so much as what really lies behind
there’s Notturno di Canti e Balli (Nocturne of Songs
and Dances), written in 1957. One senses something programmatic
here but again Malipiero remains austerely aloof. March rhythms
make an appearance in the first movement. The second, effectively
a Scherzo, contains some odd hints of mortality amidst the
big-boned writing. Any romanticised gestures by the strings
in the slow movement are cut away by the intercession of
brass and wind. And for all the chattering and perky dance
rhythms of the finale – chuckling bassoon, solo for the violin – there’s
a slightly manic air over the whole thing.
masks himself well here; the performances are good but occasionally
strained in the Fantasie and in parts of the Notturno. Don’t
be put off by such small details however. These are pioneering
performances of occasionally inscrutable works.
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