Giorgio Federico GHEDINI (1892-1965)
Piano Sonatina in D (1913) [8:54]
Puerilia: 4 Piccoli Pezze sulle 5 Note (1955) [8:00]
Piano Sonata in A flat (1922) [18:10]
Fantasia (1927) [9:25]
Divertimento Contrappuntistico (1940) [5:28]
Capriccio (1943) [5:27]
Ricercare super Sicut Cervus Desiderat ad Fontes Aquarum (Psalm XLI) (1944/1956) [8:08]
Allegretto (1957) [1:34]
Massimo Bianchi (piano)
rec. Perugia, Italy, April 2010. DDD
NAXOS 8.572330 [65:07]
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 call.
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.
A long-overdue insight into an underrated and enigmatic composer.