Sharp-eyed readers will recognise this as ex-Marco Polo 8.223696.
Recorded in Moscow in 1994 and released soon afterwards, this
Naxos re-release is part of the symphonic cycle which has been
published in single volumes (see review
Volume 1). Volume 3 covers four symphonies: 5, 6, 8 and 11, which
The most immediately attractive of the quartet is the Sixth,
which is possibly why it’s programmed first. It was written
in the same year as No.5 - in 1947 - and makes an immediate impact
by virtue of its concertante element, its contrapuntal, Tippett-reminiscent
lines - clear, bright, tangy. There’s a most expressive
slow movement and a sinewy, brisk, almost brusquely neo-classical
Scherzo with plenty of inviting dissonances. Its finale is long,
multi-sectional, alternating fast with slow paragraphs, and including
a fugal section as well. It ends quietly.
The Fifth represents another side of Malipiero’s muse;
argumentative, aggressively orchestrated, and spiced by two pianos
in its fabric. This violence is predicated however on arresting
writing which, whilst it’s hardly ingratiating, is certainly
well conceived and implacably direct. Things grow more pliant
in the slow movement where the piano textures summon up reminiscences
perhaps of his pre-War writing, but this merely prefigures the
militaristic drum tattoos and fife elements that animate the
scherzo. Throughout the finale solemn brass make their noble
plea - before the re-appearance of the liberating pianos. This
is a tough, unstable, rewarding work.
The Symphonia brevis
is just as long as the Sixth and
considerably longer than the Fifth, so it wears its title with
a certain irony. This Eighth Symphony was written in 1964. For
all the terse and kinetic moments here - the latter come in the
second movement - the schema is more diverting. A normal sized
Malipiero opening is followed by that very tense and brisk central
one. The long finale is twice as extended as both these opening
movements put together. It’s essentially contemplative,
despite an agitato section of some vehemence. There is orchestral
colour here but it has become rather diffuse. The thematic material
itself is not especially distinctive. It’s more the play
By the time we reach the compact Eleventh Symphony of 1969 we
arrive at the aloof late Malipiero: terse, uneasy, full of busy
scurrying writing but overall a sense of being directionless.
The journey from 6 to 11 is one of spring to winter.
The performances are laudably direct and animated, and Antonio
de Almeida had the whole corpus of the symphonies under his control,
as he showed throughout the cycle.