Guido Alberto FANO (1875-1961)
Cello Sonata (1898) [25:57]
Due pezzi, for cello and piano (1894/1933) [9:42]
Rimembranze, for piano (1892) [16:58]
Silvio OMIZZOLO (1905-1991)
Sonata breve, for cello and piano (1970) [9:27]
Rocco Filippini (cello)
Andrea Bacchetti (piano)
rec. Sale Apollinee, Teatro la Fenice, Venice, 2011 (Rimembranze), 2013 (Fano sonata); Fazioli Concert Hall, Sacile, 2013 (Pezzi); Auditorium Polini, Padova, 2013 (Omizzolo)
TACTUS TC870001 [63:00]

Guido Fano was born in Padua, but his main musical studies were in Bologna with Giuseppe Martucci. He began his career as a concert pianist, but soon moved into teaching and composition. From 1905 to 1912, he was director of the Conservatory of Parma, and the booklet notes suggest that he began to dabble in works that bordered on atonality. This was most surprising, given that Schoenberg was only just beginning to move away from Romanticism at this time.

His cello sonata secured first prize at the 1898 composition competition run by the Società del Quartetto of Milan, and there is no doubt that it is a fine Brahmsian work, one that would not be out of place on the concert stage today. The Due Pezzi were written almost forty years apart, but are not as different in style as one might have imagined. The Andante sostenuto is redolent with beautiful melodies, while the Allegretto scherzoso features some quirky rhythms and unusual tonalities but is certainly not atonal, requiring the cello to play at the very top of its register in places. The piano work Rimembranze, consists of five short movements, by turns graceful and flighty, with a definite feel of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, which Fano knew very well. You can hear more of Fano's piano music on Brilliant Classics.

Silvio Omizzolo was also born in Padua, and studied piano and composition in Milan. I expected to find in the booklet notes that he had been a student of Fano’s as a way of explaining the coupling of their works on this disc. Such wasn’t the case, making the presence of Omizzolo’s abrasive, percussive and unmelodic sonata totally mystifying. Omizzolo was a contemporary of Dallapiccola, and embraced dodecaphony. The notes don’t indicate whether his sonata uses this technique – I don’t think that it does – but it relies on exploring the range of sounds that the cello can produce. Not my type of music at all, and I can’t really comment more usefully on it.

Andrea Bacchetti is a well-regarded pianist, with a number of interesting CDs for RCA and Sony under his belt. I hadn’t heard of Filippini before, but he acquits himself very well. I particularly admired his tonal quality in the cantabile sections, such as the first of the Due Pezzi.

Some Tactus recordings that I have heard were hindered by less than satisfactory production values, in terms of sound and booklet notes, but there are no complaints with this one. Incidentally, the notes are by Vitale Fano, who I presume may be a relative. Tactus make no claim for these to be premiere recordings, but I suspect that they are.

David Barker

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