Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909) Notturno, for piano and orchestra, op.70 no.1 bis (1891) [6:45]
Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat minor, op.66 (1884-5) [43:40]
Tema e Variazioni, for solo piano op.58 (1882) [12:33]
Notturno, for solo piano, op.70 no.1 (1888) [6:45]
Pietro Massa (piano)
Neubrandenburger Philharmonie/Stefan Malzew
rec. Konzertkirche Neubrandenburg, 11 November 2009 (live); DLR Studio, Neubrandenburg, 25 January 2010 (solo pieces). DDD
CRYSTAL CLASSICS N67052 [69:43]
The title given to this CD, 'Piano Rarities', is both superfluous
and a little misleading. This is not the first recording of
Giuseppe Martucci's Second Piano Concerto: in fact it appeared
fairly recently on a Naxos release, played by another lesser-known
Italian pianist, Gesualdo Coggi - see review.
Interestingly, that reviewer was "shocked" at the
"paucity of the material" and goes on to inveigh against
almost every other aspect of this work, rounding off with the
remark that he "cannot imagine why Naxos should have chosen
to record this music". Naxos did do so, however, and on
a couple of other of their discs can also be found the orchestrated
version of both the Notturno and the Theme and Variations -
see this much more sympathetic review.
Additionally, both Martucci Piano Concertos can be found in
an earlier 4-disc Brilliant Classics set, played by Francesco
Caramielo (93439), and the Notturno has occasionally cropped
up as a filler elsewhere.
Opinions on music are what they are - could it have been that
the modest orchestra, conductor or pianist hired by Naxos were
more to blame than Martucci for any shock suffered, perhaps?
- but the Second Piano Concerto is a massive, impressive work
of genuine late-Romantic boldness and panache, with plenty of
memorable material expertly crafted into a widely appealing
whole. Brahms's throbbing First Piano Concerto looms large in
this work - in the first movement, in fact, there are several
paraphrases, deliberate or otherwise.
Pietro Massa peers earnestly out from the CD cover, as if to
indicate that he has what it takes to bring off a work of this
magnitude - and he has. Not only the considerable, almost Busonian
virtuosity required, but the sheer stamina to come out in one
piece at the other end of a work that is almost as long as Brahms's
own Second. The Neubrandenburg Philharmonic has a decent sound
for an ensemble based in such a relatively small locality, and
the odd quavered quaver apart, they are deftly marshalled by
After the exertions of the Concerto the listener is invited
to wind down with two works by Martucci for solo piano, the
relatively low-key but nevertheless virtuosic Theme and Variations,
and the original version of the Notturno that begins the programme.
Sound quality is pretty good, if not always 'Crystal' clear.
The CD states that the recording took place in Neubrandenburg's
'Concert Church', presumably referring to the lovely Gothic
Marienkirche there. There is some occasional traffic rumble
in evidence, but none of the coughing and rustling usually associated
with live recordings.
The booklet is quadrilingual, which means the notes are actually
slimmer than they first appear. The translation into English
from the original - rather pleonastic - German has been done
by...a German speaker! In other words, expect plenty of unidiomatic
language, compounded by several typos. Thus: "igneous piano-recitative"
('igneous' instead of 'heated'), "started to rehears",
"concert" instead of 'concerto', "the vibe and
expressions" for 'the range of mood and expression', "further
CDs will be already for release", and so on. Another label
devaluing their product to save a few euros. Pietro Massa's
biography also pre-dates the CD by at least two years, referring
to 'future' projects that have already happened - not least
this Martucci disc!
The timing is fairly generous, however, and overall this must
count as a worthy disc likely to be enjoyed by anyone keen on
Romantic piano concertos.
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