Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882 - 1973)
Impressioni dal vero: I (1910/1) [13:19]; II (1914/5) [19:11]; III (1921/2) [9:53]
Pause del silenzio: I (1917) [12:51]; II (1925/6) [24:47]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma/Francesco La Vecchia
rec. Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome, 22-23 March 2009 (Impressioni I-III) and 2-13 December 2010 (Pause del silenzio I and II)
NAXOS 8.572409 [79:53] 

Gian Francesco Malipiero led a long and prolific life. His large and varied output is inevitably uneven in quality. His works composed before World War II were his finest and his most coherent in various aspects. Some of his later output was rather more run-of-the-mill but - again - this is just a personal reaction. 

Malipiero had a great love of both nature and animals, and some of his works such as Impressioni dal vero I depicting three birds or his Eighth String Quartet “L'arca di Noe” clearly allude to this. Indeed the three movements of Impressioni dal vero I relate to the blackcap, the woodpecker and the scops owl whose nocturnal cry gave the bird its Italian name, the chiù. The resulting triptych consists of two slow, fairly calm outer movements framing an animated, rather percussive Scherzo suggesting the woodpecker. The music has an unmistakable impressionistic character perfectly suited to the evocations of nature suggested by the work's title and its three movements. On the other hand, both Impressioni dal vero II (1914/5) and Pause del silenzio I (1917) were composed during World War I. These pieces are clearly made of sterner and more dramatic stuff. Some time later Malipiero confided that he did not love the second and third sets of Impressioni while not disowning them. “They are not reproductions of things seen or heard; they are the musical echo of my feelings in response to life and nature.” Impressioni dal vero II is not only longer than any of the other two but also denser. It is also at times more violent even if the titles of the movements may suggest otherwise. The second movement I cipressi e il vento (“the Cypresses and the Wind”) is almost of Mahlerian intensity. At the time of composing this very score Malipiero could see from afar the air-raids on Venice. Concerning the somewhat enigmatically titled Pause del silenzio (“Breaks in Silence” although I would probably prefer “Breaks of Silence”) Malipiero commented that “it was difficult to find silence during the war; and, if you found it, you were terrified of interrupting it, even musically”. Pause del silenzio I actually shares many common characteristics with Impressioni dal vero II - no doubt the impact of World War I again. This fairly substantial score is in one large single movement in several linked sections of varying character. Impressioni dal vero III, the shortest of the three, is also the slighter although it is still very attractive. It is clearly less imposing and far-ranging than its immediate predecessor. On the other hand Pause del silenzio II relinquishes the single-movement structure for a more elaborate one consisting of five differentiated movements. This Malipiero described as “reflecting an adventurous journey undertaken in winter 1925-1926 without leaving my house” although the subliminal programme - if there was one - was never clearly expressed. It seems however that this substantial score had some deep, intimate meaning for the composer. “Perhaps, it sleeps the sleep of the just, and its true title should be Unbroken Silence” was the composer's comment when considering the scarcity of performances of this big piece of music. 

As mentioned earlier, Malipiero's music can be uneven, but the five works recorded here undoubtedly are important and highly personal statements. This is particularly so in the impressive Impressioni dal vero II and the equally significant Pause del silenzio I. These that rank amongst his finest works.
I have been waiting for a recording of these works for many long years. I am happy to report that this generously filled release fills an important gap in Malipiero's discography. This is particularly true now that all the symphonies have been re-issued on Naxos (3, 4; 5, 6, 8, 11; 7; 9, 10; see below). Both performances and recording are quite good. The whole may be safely commended to anyone who has investigated this composer's often idiosyncratic symphonies and who wants to know more about this important, if at times enigmatic and unsettling musical personality. 

Hubert Culot

see also review by Nick Barnard 

A splendid release and the perfect complement to the Naxos series of Malipiero symphonies. 

Reviews of Malipiero works on Naxos
8.570878: Symphonies 3 & 4, Sinfonia del mare
8.570880: Symphonies 5, 6, 8 & 11
8.570881: Symphony 7, Sinfonia in un tempo, Sinfonia per Antigenda
8.570882: Symphonies 9 & 10, Sinfonia della zodiaco
8.570883: Tre commedie goldoniane, Stradivario, La Cimarosiana, Gabrieliana