Bruno MADERNA (1920-1973)
Quadrivium (1969) [41:26]
Aura (1972) [16:27]
Biogramma (1972) [13:51]
NDR Sinfonieorchester/Giuseppe Sinopoli
rec. 1979. North German Radio, AAD

The Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna was one of the movers and shakers of the avant-garde musical scene in the 1970s. During the Glock era he was a far from uncommon presence on BBC Radio 3. This disc of works from that decade or its cusp was originally issued by DGG in 1980 on LP 2531 272. This was reissued by DG in its Echo 20/21 series on 423 464-2 and 477 5383 4. The project was a co-production with North German Radio.

Quadrivium deploys four percussionists and four orchestral groups. Wisps and shards of ideas ebb and flow dreamily or pelt down like hailstones. Itís not all pointillist material. The eight separately tracked episodes making up this big work also include lanky and muscular ideas. Indeed it communicates as a fantastic hymn to modernity: a 1970s concerto for orchestra. The final log 11 minute-track groans and blares as if evoking some terrifying black and boiling planet yet ends in near silence from a small and high-lying group of violins. Aura and Biogramma are more compact. As a good child of Darmstadt his music remains dissonant and uncompromising. Maderna described the former as 'the essence of things, the essence of sound, and something like the aroma which pervades a room from the chicken cooking in the pot'. The writing for a mass of 54 string players is an intensely passionate soup into which percussion dives and swims. Section 3 assaults the ears with a double fanfare of trumpets. This rages at first with all the searing qualities of vitriol. The fifth sectioon recalled the strutting grotesquerie of Ligetiís Le Grand Macabre. Biogramma is in its two outer movements again unarticulated and staccato. Itís certainly vividly imagined and expressed. The next two segments are in fact quite lyrical. The last two alternately scorch and tickle the ears.

Maderna the conductor can be heard in his version of Mahler 9 with the BBCSO on BBC Legends.

Worthwhile notes by Malcolm Macdonald. English only.

Rob Barnett

As a good child of Darmstadt his music remains dissonant and uncompromising.