Naxos has been an active agent on behalf of Ghedini. The Historical wing of the label has reissued orchestral music conducted by the composer himself (see review) whilst this is the second of the two volumes devoted to his complete solo piano music. This disc runs from the early 1913 Sonatina to the works of his middle-late period.
The Sonatina is a youthful affair, and I suspect you would be hard pressed to nail its country of origin, or even an accurate date of composition. It was written when Ghedini was 21 and shows his lyrical gift but no other clues as to the emergent composer. The Puerilia, on the other hand, which are subtitled, ‘4 Piccoli Pezze sulle 5 Note’, are far more distinctive and interesting. These tightly constructed miniatures are suitably droll pieces for a child to play, not least in their use of adjacent notes or the contrast between bass and treble sonorities. Each of the four is named after an animal; the bass/treble stalk is a cat, and there are amusing cuckoo motifs too.
But even this too is something of an appetiser. The main course is the 1922 Piano Sonata, something of a major statement. It takes in ballad-like gallantry, which sounds a bit like up-dated Scarlatti, quite light and quite exuberant. The central movement is more harmonically probing but still has a full complement of narrative fluency, rich, ripe chording and plenty of expression. The finale is delightfully spry, harking back to the first movement’s Scarlatti-like horn fanfare figures. Massimo Bianchi really does keep the pedal down at the end – there’s quite some sustain.
Fantasia followed in 1927 and is a much more unsettled work, occasionally truculent even. Its agitato qualities are loquaciously presented. Divertimento Contrappuntistico is constructed out of rather fearsome-sounding contrapuntal blocks, to which one can discern a Prokofiev influence. The drama and flair of the writing is considerable. In 1943 Ghedini wrote his Capriccio which was dedicated to Dallapiccola and it emerges as a tensile piece, quite cool, full of powerful dynamics – especially soft ones; reflective and dynamic in equal measure. By the time of his Ricercare super Sicut Cervus Desiderat ad Fontes Aquarum we have reached a period in which Ghedini has turned his back on his earlier more aggressive style. Things are spare, purged of uneasy gestures, concentrating on the essence of things. It is consequently a moving and in many ways absorbing work, and is played with all necessary seriousness and simplicity by Bianchi.
Indeed Bianchi proves throughout, in a thankfully well recorded acoustic, that he has a full measure of the writing, early and middle–late, and the imagination and tact to convey it to the listener.