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Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Pietro Massa

Castelnuovo-tedesco / Massa / Crudele
Release Date: 08/31/2010 
Label:  Capriccio Records   Catalog #: 5046   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa
Conductor:  Alessandro Crudele
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Piano Concerto No. 2 1. Fiaba marina. Alghe. Fiaba silvana. 5 Little Waltzes. 2 Studies Pietro Massa (pn); Alessandro Crudele, cond; 1 Berlin SO CAPRICCIO 5046 (64: 31)

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a prolific and eclectic composer, but he is best known for his music for guitar, beginning with works written for Andrés Segovia. After Read more emigrating to America in 1939, he joined the group of European Jewish composers, escapees from the Nazis, who had settled in Hollywood to make music for the movies. He lived out a quiet and successful career there, also teaching at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, where his star pupils included Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams. He died in 1968.

This delightful new release showcases a side of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s output that is less well known. In fact, there are three world premieres here, including, amazingly, this lovely piano concerto. All of this music is from the prewar period, when Castelnuovo-Tedesco was living and working in his home town of Florence. The Piano Concerto No. 2 was written latest, completed in 1937 shortly before the composer was forced to leave Italy with his family. Perhaps as an antidote to the deeply disturbing circumstances of his life at the time, this is an extraordinarily sunny work, bursting with bright color and energy. It has the structure and scale of a Mozart concerto, and seems inspired by the master’s supreme lucidity of texture. The music is not without repose or even hints of sadness, but is devoid of angst. It is a sweet, perhaps old-fashioned concoction, but beautifully put together, and well deserving of a wider audience.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s solo piano music shares the elegance and clarity of the concerto, as well as a completely unpretentious manner of expression. The music ranges from the 1919 Alghe , a work inspired by the composer’s impressions of a number of sensual encounters, including the scent of drying algae (alghe, in Italian). It marks a basically impressionistic style that is echoed in the balance of the program, as well as a Chopin-like neoclassicism in the waltzes and studies.

The performances here are spirited and affectionate, if a bit rough around the edges, as evidenced by a smudged run here and there in what sounds like rather challenging piano writing, and an occasionally wooly ensemble by Berlin’s other orchestra. But this release is highly welcomed as a revelation, really, that Castelnuovo-Tedesco was not merely a composer of guitar recital staples.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 92 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Conductor:  Alessandro Crudele
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Lindenkirche Berlin-Wilmersdorf 
Length: 27 Minutes 38 Secs. 
La sirenetta e il pesce turchina, Op. 18 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Florence, Italy 
Venue:  Studio Gärtnerstraße 
Length: 9 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Alghe, Op. 12 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Florence, Italy 
Venue:  Studio Gärtnerstraße 
Length: 6 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Vitalba e Biancospina, Op. 21 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; Italy 
Venue:  Studio Gärtnerstraße 
Length: 7 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Passatempi, Op. 54 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Florence, Italy 
Venue:  Studio Gärtnerstraße 
Length: 5 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Onde, studies (2), for piano by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Pietro Massa (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935 
Venue:  Studio Gärtnerstraße 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 

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