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Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Rondo veneziano (1929) [23:32]
Preludio a un altro giorno (1952) [11:43]
L’edipo Re di Sofocle – Three Symphonic Preludes (1904-1924) [17:40]
La pisanella (1913) [22:40]
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
rec. 10-11 December 1998, Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh DDD
Re-issue of Hyperion CDA 67084


Experience Classicsonline

Rondo veneziano
is a richly scored tone poem beginning in quite a sombre manner but becoming lively and very colourful as it progresses. Basically, it’s a kind of dance suite in one movement, the music skilfully moving from one section to the next in a sort of sonata rondo form. The orchestration is as brilliant as one could wish and it makes me wonder why we never hear this music in the concert hall. It’s exactly what London concert promoters, too many of whom are only too scared to approach anything written later than Rachmaninov, should be investigating if they wish to sate the concert-going public’s jaded palates and doing what they should be doing: presenting great music which will get bums on seats. But this is not the place for that polemic. Even so, promoters please take note of this fine work.

And if the aforementioned guardians of our concert programming are unnerved by a work playing for 22 minutes then look no further than Preludio a un altro giorno. This is one of Pizzetti’s final orchestral scores and as fine a piece of late romanticism as you could wish for. It’s a tragic piece, very serious in its outlook, brilliant in execution and it rivals anything written at the same time. Over dark and brooding low strings an oboe laments, high strings respond and the texture tightens. This is magnificent stuff; searing and searching music, of blisteringly intensity, seeking a repose it will never find. Come on, you programme planners, where are your ears?

The three Symphonic Preludes L’edipo Re di Sofocle started life as intermezzi for a production of Sophocles’s play and twenty years later the composer recast them as we hear them on this disk. They are more straightforward when compared to Preludio a un altro giorno. It is unfortunate that they follow that piece for much of their immediacy and power is lost. Make no mistake, this is fine music, strong and powerful and you don’t need to know the play to understand the strong emotions which underpin the musical drama which unfolds before your ears.

Perhaps the suite of pieces La pisanella is Pizzetti’s best known work for it has been recorded before – by the composer on 78s and in the 1960s by Lamberto Gardelli for Decca. These five pieces started life as incidental music to a play by Gabriele D’Annunzio but as with the Sophocles pieces a knowledge of the play isn’t essential. Indeed, how many people today would know much about any work of D’Annunzio? As with all the other music on this disk this is vividly orchestrated and highly attractive. It’s not without its darker moments, of course - this was written for a piece by D’Annunzio remember - but they contrast well with the simpler, more pastoral moments.

It’s good to welcome this disk back into the catalogue for it contains music which can easily be enjoyed and which demands repeated hearings. The performances are top-notch and the recording is vivid and excitingly clear. There’s also a fascinating essay in the booklet - in English, French, German and Italian - by Robert Matthew-Walker. A bargain not to be missed.

Bob Briggs

see also Review by Rob Barnett




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