This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Indisputably major works in performances of great distinction.
Here is an ideal coupling for anyone who has been meaning to investigate Martucci, but has not yet got round to doing so; or for anyone who has, and wants a couple of his indisputably major works in performances of great distinction.
Both the Piano Concerto and La canzone dei ricordi (“The song of memories”) date from Martucci’s full maturity; they show, however, quite distinct sides of his talent. The concerto is huge, boldly romantic and intensely Brahmsian, but also much more assured and original than most concertos to which such a description might be applied. The first movement, for example, is laid out with great confidence in an
ingenious expansion of sonata form, effectively allowing two contrasted development sections, yet with enough variety of incident and splendidly virtuoso pianism to earn every second of its 23 minutes. The slow movement has abundant romantic melody (at times almost recalling – or rather predicting – Rachmaninov) and achieves noble eloquence before its tranquil conclusion. The finale is an entertainingly and resourcefully ingenious sonata rondo with especially brilliant piano writing. Bruno is in fiery and eloquent command of it; if you have encountered neither him nor the concerto you will urgently be asking ‘why not?’ long before the performance is over.
La canzone dei ricordi is no less opulent but more intimate and much more Italian: a song-cycle of poignant regret for lost love, in a language that owes as much to Martucci’s Italian forebears and contemporaries in its vocal writing as it does to Wagner in its harmony. And yet it is also individual, not least in its subtle use of recurring motives and of string textures of great richness. It is a most appealing and effective piece, and Freni seizes all its opportunities for ample lyricism and impassioned gesture with gratitude. It is written for a mezzo with high notes rather than a soprano with low ones, but it suits her very well. Both she and the orchestra gain from a warmly sympathetic acoustic; Muti’s handling of both scores is splendidly sonorous and, in the concerto, big-boned. It is hard to imagine the case for Martucci being more convincingly stated.
-- Michael Oliver, Gramophone [11/1996]
Works on This Recording
La canzone dei ricordi by Giuseppe Martucci
Mirella Freni (Soprano)
La Scala Philharmonic
Written: circa 1886-1887; Italy
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