Osvaldo COLUCCINO (b.1963)
Attimo, for string quartet (2007) [17:10]
Aion, for string quartet (2002) [18:26]
Eco Immobile, for piano quartet (2002) [8:11]
Talea, for violin and cello (2008) [11:24]
Teatro La Fenice String Quartet (Roberto Baraldi, Gianaldo Tatone (violins); Daniel Formentelli (viola); Emanuele Silvestri (cello)); Achille Gallo (piano)
rec. Teatro La Gran Fenice, Venice, Italy, 25-26 October 2010. DDD
NEOS 11130 [55:13] 

The front cover promises the 'String Quartets' of Italian composer Osvaldo Coluccino, but in fact only two of the four works live up to the bill, the remaining two being a Piano Quartet and a Duo for violin and cello. On the other hand, none of these works really bears any resemblance to more traditional forms - Coluccino is a post-modernist.
That much is evident from a cursory look at the booklet notes. Coluccino doubles up as a poet, but there is little lyricism in the theatrical post-structuralist jargon of his notes. Coluccino's original Italian is obscure enough, and the English translator must have had a testing time attempting to render such hermetically sealed language. In fact he does not altogether succeed and the reader is left to ponder formulations like the following: "The event regenerates itself from the moment it leaves its habitual surroundings (whether historical or conceptual), after which it is transfigured, acquiring a surface sheen on which sensations are reflected like flashes of light. The sensations flit past at the maximum speed we are able to perceive. In their wake comes the sum-total of our experience (which becomes anti-episodic)." Coluccino goes so far as to quote extensively from a grand master of metaphysical smoke and mirrors, Gilles Deleuze. Pointedly, the citation is only available to those who read French, although as it does not make much sense, little harm is done.
What does emerge in any case from all this is the fact that Coluccino is a very earnest composer, and this is certainly reflected in these works. From a sonic point of view they all explore similar avenues, whatever forces are employed. Coluccino's music is gossamer, almost ephemeral, flickering in and out of existence like meaning in a Deleuzean text. It is also very slow-moving, apt to slide into stasis or short periods of silence. There is little contrast or differentiation even in the two parts of Aion. In each work Coluccino's music seems to float like a creeping mist on a hilltop, disorienting yet not frightening. Admirers of Luigi Nono should enjoy themselves, if that is the right word, but others will need to work at their listening to extract the intellectual secrets locked up in Coluccino's music.
These are premiere recordings, and kudos to the string quartet of 'La Fenice' for having the spirit - and the skill - to tackle these tricky pieces. Sound quality is good, though the recordings were made at an astonishingly low volume. The digipak case stores the booklet in a rather fragile cut-out slot. In fact, the cellophane-sealed review disc came pre-torn at one side of the slot.
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Tricky post-modernist pieces tackled with spirit and skill.