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Progetto Italiano
Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1956-1909)
Three Pieces Op. 67 (1887) [16:21]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Violin Sonata in B Minor (1917-18) [26:19]
Six Pieces for Violin & Piano (1901-02) [26:18]
Nino ROTA (1911-1979)
Improvviso in re minore per violino e pianoforte (1947) [4:00]
Vladyslava Luchenko (violin)
Christia Yuliya Hudziy (piano)   
rec. 2017, Leibniz Saal, Hanover Congress Centrum, Germany
Notes included
CLAVES RECORDS 50-1910 [72:54]

‘Progetto Italiano’ is the name of this disc showcasing sixty years of Italian music for violin and piano. Vladyslava Luchenko and Christia Yuliya Hudziy are Ukrainian-born musicians, now based in Switzerland and Belgium respectively, and their playing and obvious affection for this repertoire make this an outstanding debut disc.

Giuseppe Martucci was one of the small group of composers in the 19th century who tried to create an instrumental music in Italy and the Three Pieces Op. 67 is a good example of Martucci’s compositional variety. The Andantino is mostly German in feeling but with a verve that would have surprised Brahms or Bruch. It is well thought-out and might remind one of the pre-Enigma Elgar; it is interesting to note that in his role as conductor, Martucci more than once programmed British music. The Allegretto is very different, showing a French influence, but with a Verdian underlying sense of unease. Most striking is the Allegro appassionato, wonderfully melodic, and with a fine contrasting middle section. Both performers get everything they can out of these pieces.

Ottorino Respighi (see MWI resources) was one of those who succeeded Martucci and his colleagues, and mostly, though not completely, concentrated on instrumental music. From Respighi’s days as a performing violinist and violist comes the Six Pieces. The Berceuse is surprisingly folkish, but also demonstrates the composer’s preoccupation with structure, while the Melodia is somewhat salonish, but well-developed. The highlight of the set is the Leggenda, solemn and serious, and with a sense of the violin’s capabilities that makes one think Respighi must have been quite a performer, as also evidenced in the Serenata. The Bachian Aria (a little like the much later Toccata for Piano and Orchestra) provides a stately finale to the set.

By 1918 Respighi was, after Puccini, the most prominent of Italian composers, in large part due to the great success of The Fountains of Rome. Yet Respighi did not follow up this triumph with another orchestral spectacular, but with the most popular of his chamber works, the Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-minor. The sonata’s first movement shows a Franckian sense of thematic transformation combined with typical Respighi energy, but the predominant feeling is one gentleness and lyricism, far removed from the big orchestral works. The slow movement is more impressionistic, alternating lyricism and drama, with a fascinating coda. Respighi uses the old passacaglia form to produce a final movement full of 20th century drama and lyricism, ending with an almost gypsy-like conclusion.

Nino Rota was known for both his film scores and his concert works, and the Improvviso is both, originally written for a 1947 movie with Jean Servais, and then published as a classical work. It is passionate and virtuosic, which could describe all the works on this disc and certainly describes the efforts of our two performers.

Every piece is played with great understanding of the idiom involved and, at the same time, with both intellect and emotion. The recording quality is also first rate. While there are other recordings of the Martucci and Respighi pieces, it would be hard to find more exciting and committed performances.

William Kreindler

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