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Camillo TOGNI (1922-1993)
Works for Flute
Three Preludes for flute (1975) [6:15]
Flute Sonata, Op. 35 (1953) [10:04]
Prelude for solo piccolo (1978) [1:19]
Three Duets for soprano and flute (1977-80) [10:04]
Per Maila for flute and piano (1982) [1:54]
Inno a Iside for solo flute (1979) [2:47]
Five Pieces for flute and guitar 91975-76) [11:09]
Three Preludes for solo piccolo (1978-80) [3:44]
Fantasia concertante for flute and string orchestra (1957) [9:20]
Roberto Fabbriciani (flute)
Dorothy Dorow (soprano)
Vincenzo Saldarelli (guitar)
Massimiliano Damerini (piano)
Carlo Alberto Neri (piano: Per Maila))
I Cameristi Lombardi/Mario Conter.
rec. Brescia, 1980 (Three Duets), 1983 (Fantasia Concertante), 2015/16 (others)
NAXOS 8.573731 [53:02]

Naxos has now reached in its Togni series a compilation of works involving solo flute or piccolo. Italian composer Camillo Togni was initially active as a pianist, who could boast Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli among his teachers. He was an active recitalist until 1953, after which he performed only his own music in public. It was hearing Michelangeli play Schoenberg that was his damascene moment, and ultimately made him a composer and a dedicated avant-garde modernist. If you know and like some of Berio, Nono or Maderna, then Togni might be the next composer for you to explore. On this evidence he is always inventive in exploring different expressive means, never merely provocative, and there is much that is intriguing and alluring even on first hearing. Apart from the nine-minute Fantasia all the individual movements are very short – none is over four minutes – so nothing outstays its welcome. It’s probably best to listen to one or two works at a time, when they work well in refreshing the musical palette.

Although Togni’s output ranges from solo piano and chamber music (also to be found on Naxos) though to orchestral works and two operas, he does seem to have had a particular predilection for solo flute. One of his influences was the great flautist Severino Gazzelloni, who premiered several of his works including the Flute Sonata and Fantasia concertante recorded here. Later flute works were written for another Italian flautist Roberto Fabbriciani, a leading instrumentalist in avant-garde music and the principal soloist on this disc. So we can take the authority of the performances for granted.

The disc opens with the Three Preludes for solo flute, which are preludial both in being very brief and in outlining some of the expressive devices available on the instrument. The Five Pieces for flute and guitar uses the same three movements and adds two more, but the title is a bit misleading since the guitar appears only in those two added movements. Sonata for flute and piano has three movements, and has rather more substance than its ten-minute length might suggest. There is one brief track Per Maila that is tonal (in C minor), and easy to like. The Fantasia concertante for flute and string orchestra is a serial work, and sounds it – every note earns its place and nothing is superfluous. I found the Inno a Iside particularly compelling, with its several repetitions and alternations between flute and bass flute.

The one vocal work, the Three Duets for soprano and flute, has what sounds a ferociously demanding soprano role with very wide leaps, and Dorothy Dorow – an English singer described in the booklet as “a militant advocate of Neue Musik” – certainly tackles it fearlessly.

The recordings come from two eras really, and there is some variation in ambience between the two pieces with 1980’s sound and the recently recorded majority, but all of them do justice to the highly attractive sound Fabbriciani makes, and especially to his range of colour he draws from the flutes and the piccolo. The booklet notes are valuable, if in rather small print, and the texts and translations of the Three Duets are included. I don’t suppose the appeal of this disc will be very wide, but then the glory of the Naxos label is that that is rarely a consideration. Certainly I enjoyed getting to know this elusive music, and I suspect that many an adventurous collector will do the same.

Roy Westbrook



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