Concert Works by Film Composers, the collective title
of the present release, has more than a grain of truth, though Piazzola and,
to a certain extent, Frederik Devreese may not entirely fit into this category.
The other composers, however, have considerably contributed (and some still
do) to that specific medium. All of them, anyway, have also written a good deal
of concert works which are still too easily by-passed or frankly neglected.
Nino Rota, who may be primarily remembered as the composer
of many original and highly effective scores for Fellini's films, has a substantial
body of concert works to his credit ranging all the way from short piano pieces
to full-evening operas. His lovely Trio for clarinet, cello and
piano is an appealing example of his tuneful and colourful music in which most
of his fingerprints are much in evidence: simple structures, economy of means,
clarity as well as some light-hearted humour (as in the Poulenc-like third movement)
and deeply felt emotion (as in the beautifully simple, song-like second movement).
Fréderik Devreese, too, has composed many fine
concert works in an accessible 20th Century idiom as well as a lot
of incidental music and a number of very fine film scores, particularly for
the late André Delvaux for whose masterpiece L'Oeuvre au Noir
he wrote a substantial score of which very little is actually heard in the film
but that, fortunately enough, has been recorded complete. Delvaux's Benvenuta
(1983) starring Fanny Ardant and Vittorio Gassman called for a more concentrated
approach, the music being part of the setting, as it were, and more independent
from what happens on the screen. The suite, made by Devreese, exists in several
versions, including for violin and piano and for bass clarinet and marimba (the
latter available on PHAEDRA 292005), for clarinet trio (heard here) and for
orchestra (available on MARCO POLO 8.223681). It is in fact a dance suite (Habanera,
Waltz and Tango) introduced by a sort of 'dream sequence'. The most remarkable
thing about it is that all the movements are in fact highly imaginative variations
on the same basic tango, stated in the introduction and which is turned into
a nightmarish danse macabre and in a more aggressive dance number.
Piazzola will probably be best described as the man who
transformed the often vulgar, popular Tango into a sophisticated art form, and
Verano Porteño, which also exists in several instrumental
versions, is a prime example of his approach.
Adrian Williams' trio Jizo was commissioned
by the New Art Trio and was completed as recently as 2002, so that the present
recording is also the world première of the piece. It is a suite of three
concise, contrasted movements evoking three Japanese deities who, so we are
told, protect children. So Jizo Bosatsu (peaceful god who saves children
from hell), Sendan Kendatsuba (who kills demons attacking children) and
Kariteimo who first devours children and then repents!). A superbly crafted
piece of music in its own right eschewing any attempt at fake Orientalism.
Though much of his fame rests on his numerous film scores,
some of them being real masterpieces in their own kind, Morricone, who was a
pupil of Petrassi, also composed some considerable concert work. His Quattro
Studi for piano were written between 1983 and 1989. A pity that the
whole set has not been recorded here; but I can understand why the First Study
was chosen. Its design has most Morricone hallmarks that make his music so unique:
a few isolated notes, struck so that they resonate for some time, punctuate
an ostinato that is subtly varied throughout the piece. (I really wonder
what the other études sound like.)
Affectionate, dedicated and well recorded readings of
a varied and attractive programme that vastly repays repeated hearings and that
is well worth looking for.