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Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Hanna Hipp (mezzo soprano)
Emma Abbate (piano)
rec. 2017, St John the Evangelist, Oxford, UK
Full texts and English translations
RESONUS RES10209 [55:20]

Pizzetti died in 1968 so this aptly serves as a 50th anniversary reminder of his under-valued songs. It forms part of a series on Resonus anchored by pianist Emma Abbate who has recorded Castelnuovo-Tedesco with Ashley Riches and a compilation album – Respighi, Casella, Alfano and Malipiero – with Julian Perkins.

There are 17 songs in this selection, out of the 31 he composed, and they chart a progress of half a century from the very earliest years of the twentieth-century until a decade or so before his death. Pizzetti favoured contemporary poets – D’Annunzio and Ungaretti were prominent – though he ranged widely to include little-known names such as Parma-born (as was Pizzetti himself) Mario Silvani, whose Sera d’inverno gives its name to the disc title. This calm and measured setting offers a reflective Pizzetti, as does the succeeding L’annuncio. Contrasts, meanwhile, permeate Cinque Liriche. Here the incisively flowing first song, I pastori (1916) reveals a debt to impressionism, both pianistically and in the vocal line, though the powerful drama of the following song, La madre al figlio lontano, shows Pizzetti’s more abrasive, intense qualities as a song composer. Then, too, he could mine elements of the antique, as in San Basilio without sounding pastiche-flecked or could throw himself into erotic efflorescence in the final setting, Passeggiata.

For all the elements of measured reserve sometimes to be encountered here, Pizzetti is more than capable of moments of melismatic rapture – try the sublimely brief Antifona amatoria di Basiliola – or the ode to dejection that constitutes E il mio dolore io canto. The melisma is something of a favoured device, in fact, appearing in the first of the Due Canti d’amore, along with echo effects; his settings, frequently syllabic do vary when it comes to the use – here quite extravagant – of melismas. He can also be crabby. Mezzo Hanna Hipp and Abbate perform one of the three settings from another love cycle Tre Canti d’amore – it’s a modern translation of a poem by Sappho - and it turns out to be a slightly sullen affair, brief, taut and fast. Pizzetti’s air of remoteness permeates Tre Canti Greci in which the Greek folk texts, translated by Pio Bondioli, are for the most part elusive even when at their most strenuous and extrovert – though it’s true that there’s a welcoming theatricality to the end of the final setting.

Hipp sings with tonal richness and real textual sensitivity – a vital matter in so text-conscious a composer as Pizzetti - and Abbatte is supremely alert whether the piano writing is spare and allusive or more generously forthcoming. This latest Resonus disc has certainly fulfilled its brief and its excellent notes prove suitably superior.

Jonathan Woolf

Sera d’inverno [3:42]
L’annuncio [2:06]
Cinque Liriche (1908): I. I pastori [5:15]: II. La madre al figlio lontano [4:13]: III. San Basilio [1:59]: IV. Il clefta prigione [2:42]: V. Passeggiata [6:16]
Épitaphe [1:48]
Antifona amatoria di Basiliola [1:19]
E il mio dolore io canto [2:34]
Incontro di Marzo [6:00]
Due Canti d’amore: I. Adjuro vos, filiae Jerusalem [2:42]: II. Oscuro è il ciel [2:28]
Scuote amore il mio cuore [1:45]
Tre Canti Greci: I. Augurio [2:58]: II. Mirologio per un bambino [3:17]: III. Canzone per ballo [4:04]


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