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Riccardo MALIPIERO (1914–2003)
Complete Music for Solo Piano
14 Variazioni di un tema musicale (1938) [8:19]
Piccola musica (1941) [4:35]
Invenzioni per pianoforte (1949) [11:57]
Costellazioni (1965) [14:34]
Le rondini di Alessandro: sette pezzi facili per pianoforte (1971) [4:47]
Diario Secondo (1985) [11:32]
José Raúl López (piano)
rec. 3-5, 11 Aug 2001, 1 Aug 2010, 11 Aug 2011, Concert Hall of the Nicole and Herbert Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Florida International University, Miami.
TOCCATA TOCC0129 [55:44]

We know Gian Francesco Malipiero from the symphonies (Volume 1 ~ Volume 3 ~ Volume 4 ~ Volume 5) and the string quartets (review ~ review) but who knows of his composer nephew Riccardo Malipiero? I didn’t. It turns out he was an early convert to the twelve-tone system. Having pursued piano studies at the Milan Conservatory he then went on to the Turin Conservatory. There were also composition studies with his uncle Gian Francesco. After working as a lecturer in Monza (1935-1947) he taught at the Varese Conservatory.

The present six works, tracing this Milanese composer's piano music from 1938 to 1989, are made up of short, separately-tracked musical episodes – the perfect answer to a challenged attention span. There are 49 tracks so Toccata’s attention to detail is nothing short of lavish. In addition the pianist’s essay on the composer and his solo piano music encompasses nine closely packed but perfectly eye-friendly pages. The booklet is in English only. The works recorded here make up Malipiero's published corpus for piano solo. They here receive their recording premieres.

The 14 Variazioni di un tema musicale are already fully formed in dodecaphonic terms and angular style. Costellazioni finds this composer at close to the peak of the avant-garde’s popularity. We hear awkward figures rumble, ripple and skitter, deep bass chords resound. The hypnotic writing evokes thoughts of distant galaxies. The work ends in a stutter that gutters and then finally peters out. He is the master of Stravinskian scurrying figuration; cool, cold with flourishing rhythmic thunder and grunt.

This is tough music presented with factual and technical diligence as well as artistic qualities. Credit to the pianist for carrying through this distinctive project from concept to execution. There's no want of valour in choosing this music to champion.

Rob Barnett



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