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Mario PILATI (1903-1938)
Violin Sonata in F Minor (1928-29) [27:05]
Preludio, Aria and Tarantella on Old Neapolitan Folk tunes (1930) [16:25]
Sarabanda (1925) [5:07]
Two Pezzi (1925) [8:16]
Caccia (1933) [4:12]
Tammurriata (from the Echoes of Naples) [3:02]
Cello Sonata in A Minor (1929) [26:46]
Inquiétude [3:40]
Bagatelles Books 1 & 2 [33:21]
Francesco Manara (violin)
Luca Signorini (cello)
Dario Candela (piano).
rec. 2016, Auditorium Cavalli, Brescia, Italy
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95352 [64:13 + 63:56]

The short-lived Neapolitan-born Mario Pilati reached early artistic maturity in Milan where he attracted publishers and performances. By 1931 he was Italy’s representative at that year’s International Festival of Contemporary Music, held in London and Oxford. He won an eminent Chair at the Conservatoire in Naples but his rise was hampered and finally curtailed by illness. He lived long enough to see Mitropoulos conduct his Concerto in C major in Venice in September 1938 but three months later he was dead.

This twofer presents his violin and cello chamber works along with some attractive pieces for solo piano. The Violin Sonata, composed in 1928-29, opens with a kind of boogiefied Tarantella that soon morphs into a modified tango club theme, the violin’s line radiating late-Romantic confidence all the while. There are hints in the passagework that Pilati may have known Ysaÿe’s recently published set of solo violin sonatas. Pilati again favours the piano to open the central movement, an Allegretto with avian moments for the fiddle, rhapsodic and songful but with a mordant edge. The warm lyricism of the finale, after a side-stepping start, takes in some of the most diffuse material in the sonata, but Pilati has the courage to allow the music to dissolve into wisps of the merest gauze. Following a year later, the Preludio, Aria and Tarantella on Old Neapolitan Folk tunes sports some attractive harmonics, and self-made folklorisms, warm romance in the central panel, whilst the Tarantella recalls the rolling dynamism of the opening of the Violin Sonata.

Smaller pieces round out Pilati’s most attractive legacy of works for violin and piano. The revival of the Italian Baroque is signaled in the Sarabanda, a transcription of the Suite for piano and strings of 1925, nd whilst the Two Pezzi may suggest the influence of, say, Martucci stylistically they show Pilati occupying more cosmopolitan elements: Prokofiev, French impressionism (in the piano writing) and somewhat analogous to what Schulhoff was doing at the same time. Caccia is a mini-Lark Ascending, with fanfare figures – if you can picture that – and is rather delightful, whilst Tammurriata (from the Echoes of Naples) is wittily facetious.

The Cello Sonata, written in the year he completed the Violin Sonata, is deeply attractive. It combines rhapsodic romanticism – promoted via a splendid distribution of themes between the two instruments – with a degree of agitation. The theme and variations central movement has plenty of incident and the finale’s second theme is truly beautiful – once again neatly balanced later by more acerbic and declamatory writing. The solo piano sequence is called Bagatelles, cast in two volumes. These brief character pieces are couched in a lighter salon style but round out the breadth of his style and you’ll find gently rocking elements, ragtime, dappled charm, rustic songfulness – try the third of the second set where the songs are ‘sung’ by both baritone and soprano voicings – and burlesque. Very enjoyable all round.

The recording quality is rather flat and lacks much bloom but violinist Francesco Manara plays with commitment and style, though very occasionally his intonation strays. Luca Signorini is stylish too and underpinning all is Dario Candela, a splendidly adept figure at the piano.

There’s a good booklet note by the pianist and an attractive look to this welcome and valuable release.

Jonathan Woolf
Previous review: Rob Barnett



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