Pizzetti will be known, if, indeed, he is known by you at all, for his orchestral Suite: La Pisanelle (1913) and his Messa di Requiem (1922), both of which have been recorded several times. This disk brings together three very fine pieces of chamber music which are too good to miss.
The Piano Trio starts with a very relaxed introductory passage, where the three instruments introduce themselves, after which the music erupts in a stormy first subject, which is broad and richly lyrical. This gives way to a more restrained second subject and by now we're half way through the movement. It's obvious that Pizzetti is going to take his time saying what he has to say. The development section is turbulent and it continues in this high-powered mode to the end. This is big music with big things to say. It is tempered by a simple slow movement which is song-like and gently lyrical. There is a Mediterranean warmth about much of this. The finale is more New World than Old for there a freer spirit is abroad. This is the kind of open-air easiness you find in Copland, but doesn't sound a bit like the American master; rather it's the mode of expression. Although this is obviously a very serious piece, Pizzetti manages to balance the light and shade. He never overburdens the instruments so that the textures remain clean - each line is clearly defined and perfectly audible. At 30 minutes it seems too short but it leaves you wanting more which is no bad thing.
The Violin Sonata is obviously the work of a younger man, for it tends to throw caution to the wind and grasp the musical challenge with both hands. It never stops to wonder if what is being written is going to be too much. Whereas the first movement of the Trio was turbulent, here there is violence, and it's almost relentless in its headlong rush. But Pizzetti is a lyrical composer so he is always mindful of the need to ensure sufficient melodic material to carry his musical argument. The slow movement is a very fervent outpouring. It could almost be by Korngold, so opulent is the expression. This is balanced by a more bucolic finale, which still has an over-abundance of warm lyricism. Again, the spirit of Korngold can be discerned in some of the writing.
These two works are very fine examples of a side to Pizzetti of which I was unaware. They are excellent examples of that late-romantic, post-Great War, style, which was favoured by many, as Stravinsky turned to neo-classicism and Schönberg invented serialism. They are strong pieces and are given very powerful advocacy by Rásonyi, Fenyö and Ertungealp.
The Tre Canti are lighter. Certainly they are without the intensity of, and are more classical in feel than, the other works but they are still quite powered pieces. They make a nicely relaxed end to a very interesting disk of rare chamber music, in committed performances. If you're into music of the late-romantic period then this, obviously, is for you. It's a valuable addition to the ever-growing recorded repertoire of chamber music. The recording and notes are very good and it all goes to make a very desirable issue.