Friday, August 10, 2012

Dallapiccola: Orchestral Works

'This is a well-performed CD in excellent sound, particularly welcome at the time of the composer's centenary.' --Gramophone

'Gianandrea Noseda understands the music's lyrical strength and fragile soundworld perfectly; the playing of the BBC Philharmonic is exemplary, too.' --The Guardian

'It's good to have these rare items played by a first-class orchestra, and finely recorded. James Ehnes is an eloquent soloist… and Gianandrea Noseda's affection for the music is evident throughout.' --BBC Music Magazine

Dallapiccola is universally known as an Italian (and Florentine) composer, but he was born a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Istria, that tiny Adriatic peninsula only ceded to Italy after the First World War. For part of the war he was war-interned in Graz, where he discovered opera and resolved to become a composer. In many respects he was a quintessential Italian, in love with lyricism, the Romance languages, classical antiquity, Dante, Monteverdi, Verdi. Yet a certain orientation towards Austro-German art led him to follow Ferruccio Busoni in seeking new modes of musical architecture.

A concert in 1924 at which he saw Arnold Schoenberg conduct Pierrot Lunaire profoundly influenced the young Dallapiccola. In the 1930s, his wish to create works of utter clarity and organic consistency was whetted by hearing music of Anton Webern, whom he eventually met in 1942. Dallapiccola was to become the first significant Italian composer to embrace Schoenberg’s twelve-note method of composition. But he embraced it from a wholly Italianate direction, deriving his music from twelve-note rows but keeping them subservient to his lyrical and visionary empressive impulses. Though he came to prominence in Mussolini’s Italy, Dallapiccola was a dedicated anti-Fascist, in danger of his life during World War II. Many of his works deal with the themes of persecution, imprisonment, resistance to tyranny, the importance of holding fast to civilised values. For him, art possessed moral force: it is this, combined with the refinement and perfectionism of his technique, that makes him such an abiding inspiration in a later age of cultural relativism.

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