RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Mario PILATI (1903-1938)
Preludio, Aria e Tarantella * [15:17]
Four Italian Folksongs for Small Orchestra * [9:06]
Bagatelles for Chamber Orchestra * [17:34]
Divertimento for Brass Ensemble [10:34]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra with Brass Soloists of the Orchestra/Adriano
rec. Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, March 2007 *; May 2008
INEDITA PI 2757 [52:32]

Mario Pilatiís accessible music has been largely ignored. His sudden death in 1938 and a generalised antipathy towards any music that might have been linked with the Italian fascist movement had condemned to oblivion so many composers like Pilati. His style spanned neo-classicism to neo-romanticism and the baroque to popular idioms including jazz and the cinema. No wonder the conductor/composer Adriano has been attracted to his music. There is elegance and wit and an engaging lightness of expression in Pilatiís music.

The Preludio, Aria e Tarantella, originally scored for violin and piano, is a gorgeous confection; its orchestration glitters. A real find this little work. The Preludio is introduced by violins dancing over bass strings before woodwinds enter imitative of birdsong en masse. It has a colourful Italianate folk-like theme and is based on popular Neapolitan songs. The lovely Aria begins in nostalgic vein and then sparkles as its rhythms turn from introspection to light-hearted dance. The concluding, hedonistic Tarantella begins menacingly recalling the quasi-demonic origins of the dance; then all is fleet-footed celebration, joyful and witty, culminating in a Ďfinale with superimposing trillo, tremolo, terzine and glissando so creating the atmosphere of great feastingí.

Pilatiís Four Italian Folksongs were dedicated to his young daughters Anna Maria, Laura and Giovanna. They are serene and joyful and draw upon the folklore of Southern Italy with perhaps a dash of American folk music. There is an attractive simplicity here although the orchestrations are again beautifully contrived to heighten the bucolic atmosphere. The opening piece is marked Canzone a ballo and is a dreamy waltz; then follows the high-spirited Filastrocca con variazioni. The third episode is a beautiful meditation marked Ritorno dalla mietitura with birdsong and some remarkable tremolando string writing. The concluding Líaddio is a delightful, strongly rhythmic country-dance with, one imagines, more than a little American influence.

The five Bagatelles for chamber orchestra commence with a delightful Marcia - in Pilatiís hands one cannot help but imagine that these are toy soldiers on the march. Ninna Nanna has a Dies irae tolling but it is a little teasingly playful rather than filled with Rachmaninov-like tragedy. A Duetto (Contrasto rusticano) follows - a tongue-in-cheek rustic burlesque. This piece, like so much else on this CD, brings the commedia dellíarte characters to mind. Then follows the Rondo-Valzer cocking a cheeky snook at Ravelís La Valse. Finally comes the busy jazzy Fine as though the music is caught up in a raucous traffic jam. Great fun.

Finally there is the jazz-based Divertimento for Brass Ensemble. This swings and swaggers along in another Marcia, then sings a nicely harmonised blues for a Romanza, gleefully dances through a Mazurka and concludes with a stirring Fanfara.

Adriano conducts these little gems with unbridled enthusiasm.

A thoroughly delightful, light-hearted collection.

Ian Lace

A thoroughly delightful, light-hearted collection.