This is the second of only two volumes of Ghedini's complete
piano music on Naxos. Volume 1, also featuring Massimo Bianchi,
was released a year ago, and is available on Naxos 8.572329.
Of the two, this volume has, on balance, the more substantial
pieces, in particular the Piano Sonata in A flat, the
Fantasia and the Ricercare. Moreover, the
Sonatina, Puerilia, Sonata, Fantasia
and Allegretto are all world première recordings.
The programme opens with the cheerful, mellifluous, almost anachronistic
Piano Sonatina in D, sounding not unlike a young Grieg.
This is the earliest work on the disc, one of Ghedini's earliest
of any kind, and not at all typical of his more mature style.
Puerilia: Four Little Pieces on Five Notes are tiny but
amusing and intriguing studies Ghedini wrote for his young daughters,
each of the finger-restricted pieces representing a different
animal - an ant, a cat, a cuckoo and a cock, with the first
two focusing on the animal's movement, the latter two on its
The Piano Sonata in A flat is a generally optimistic
work, though tinged throughout, and especially in the slow movement,
with nostalgic poignancy. It is a thoughtful, inventive and
thoroughly beautiful work - Ghedini's piano masterpiece.
The Fantasia is another of Ghedini's major works for
piano, in spite of its relative brevity. It was to be his last
piano work for two decades, by which time his music had entered
a more radical phase. The Fantasia is a virtuosic, complex
work, interweaving stormy and reflective passages of fugato
and counterpoint. The exciting final minute or so sounds like
a delicious fusion of Chopin and Liszt.
The Divertimento Contrappuntistico, dedicated to the
pianist Carlo Vidusso, is another briefish work, yet
contains a huge amount of notes, evolved from a simple musical
idea (the 'diverting' element), and is a technically demanding
piece for the performer. Reminiscent mostly of Prokofiev, it
is an enjoyable whirlwind of energy from first to last. The
Capriccio is a short, three-part work, apparently reducing
dynamically to pppp in the largo central section - patently
not observed by Bianchi. The harmonies are interesting - dissonant
in an approachable way.
The Ricercare on 'As the hart panteth after
the water brooks' (Psalm 42) dates from 1944 (not
1943, as the back cover states). There was a revision in 1956
- the version played here - and there is an audible element
of war-weariness in this beautiful, contemplative, ascetic music.
The final work is a bagatelle, the very short Allegretto,
written for an anthology intended as examination pieces.
Pianist Massimo Bianchi is more than equal to the challenges
thrown up by Ghedini's imagination. The last resonances of the
final chords at the end of the first and second movements of
the Piano Sonata sound very slightly cut short, but otherwise
the recording is almost perfect throughout. For the brilliance
of the Piano Sonata, Fantasia and Ricercare
alone this CD represents a worthwhile purchase, giving a long-overdue
insight into an underrated and enigmatic composer.