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Giovanni Sgambati: Complete Piano Music / Pietro Spada


Release Date: 01/24/2006 
Label:  Arts Music   Catalog #: 47770   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 51 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This series sheds pleasing and definitive light on a neglected corner of the romantic repertoire.

Following a deep and long research in musical archives, Pietro Spada was able to achieve the first ever complete recording of Sgambati's piano works.
Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914) was considered the most important Italian pianist of the 19th Century. He was also recognized as the only true alternative to Franz Liszt who was formerly his teacher and later his best friend. He toured Europe with Liszt and with him founded the "Scuola Romana", one of the most important music schools of those years. As virtuoso piano player and composer, Sgambati performed throughout all Europe, being close friend to Wagner and
Read more Rubinstein. The most well known pianists also played his compositions until the first part of the last century. Arts is proud to offer this complete edition in four CDs, including many unpublished works, besides famous "encores" such as the "Canzone Lituana".

Pietro Spada edited the complete works of Sgambati, which will be finally published altogether with these CDs.

R E V I E W S:

The German company Arts Music enterprisingly took up the offer of pianist and Sgambati authority, Pietro Spada, to record the Italian composer’s complete works for solo piano.

Giovanni Sgambati was born in Rome and he died there. Bald facts tell only part of the story. He was in fact no parochialist and briefly his music permeated European and American cultural life with celebrity premieres by no means unusual in the period 1880-1905. He was out of the ordinary as an Italian composer in not writing opera. To this extent he laboured under the same burden as Martucci. Liszt took the young composer under his wing and introduced him to Wagner. It was Wagner’s intervention with Schotts that resulted in that company publishing many of Sgambati’s chamber works. He was also active as a conductor championing the German repertoire. He conducted Liszt’s Dante Symphony in 1866. Fellow Italian composer Alfredo Casella wrote an article about Sgambati (Music and Letters, 1925).

The first disc: The Prelude is splendidly nagging and there is then a pensively relaxed Fugue. The Etudes de Concert are taut and romantic - the second of these is rather stiff. The Schumann-like Fogli Volante are a poetic sequence - broadly centred in Schumann-Macdowell territory. The highlight is the Campane festa which is outstandingly atmospheric, beautifully weighted and flighted by Spada. Of the Quattro Pezzi Op. 18, the Minuetto and the Toccata are mechanically patterned and rigid. The Preludio and Nenia are, by contrast, strongly atmospheric romantic pieces. The Serenata (extracted from the First Symphony) is a song swung with muscular romantic reach - leonine and Brahmsian. What Rudolf Serkin would have made of this at his peak!

CD2: The Six Nocturnes Opp. 20, 31, 33 are well worth hearing. Their ‘tribute’ is paid more to Chopin than to Field; more to Grieg than to Liszt. I commend these Nocturnes to any young player wanting to surprise her or his audience or a competition jury with something other than Chopin. The Lyrical Pieces Op. 23 are quite varied with a liquid and almost impressionistic À la fontaine contrasting with a dramatic Wagnerian night scene in Vox Populi. The Beethoven Minuet is a faithful mood parallel.

CD3: The Op. 21 Suite in five movements is the stuff of charm rather than anything else and triangulates pleasingly between Chopin, Brahms and Grieg. The Boite à Musique is a most skilful emulation of the clockwork music-box effect - extremely attractive. The Romance and the Gavotte are grandly Brahmsian. The Melodia Campestre from his very late Op. 42 suite uses a serenade-like tune in the Neapolitan manner. The plums among the unpublished pieces include the Presentimento and the lapping and rocking motion of the Preludio.

The fourth and final volume of the series is the shortest playing of the four. It includes the Mélodies Poétiques Op. 36. The sea-swell of Rivelazione is well put across by Spada. Who could resist the simplicity and singing charm of En valsant. The Profonda pena is more poignant, more searching. Spada rescued the Five Improvvisi from unpublished obscurity. The cradle-rocking No. 3 with the Gavotte-like No. 4 are the pick of the bunch.

Sgambati was by no means a mere miniaturist. His First Symphony was written in 1881. The Second followed two years later. The Piano Concerto was written in 1871. Two piano quintets date from the period 1866-70 and both are recorded on ASV-Sanctuary. In addition there is a Requiem for baritone, chorus and orchestra in 1895. The Requiem dates from 1895 and was written to mark the death of King Victor Emmanuel II then revised on the murder of King Umberto I in 1901. The First Symphony was dedicated to the Royal Family being premiered under Toscanini’s baton at the Quirinale. His works were given in all the major European cultural centres. The Requiem, First Symphony and Piano Concerto were all performed in London. In the Requiem a Fauré-like reticence meets the drama of apocalyptic visions. The Piano Concerto has been recorded several times and Carus have a good version of the Requiem. As for the Symphonies, the First has been recorded by Actes-Sud coupled with the Piano Concerto (Alexander Paley, piano; Montpellier National Orchestra/Friedemann Layer) while the Second Symphony and the substantial suite Epitalamo Sinfonico (occasionally referred to as the Third Symphony) remain up for grabs.

Pietro Spada provides the in-depth notes based on many years researching Sgambati. You will come away from reading these with your knowledge of Sgambati and his milieu deepened and widened.

This series sheds pleasing and definitive light on a neglected corner of the romantic repertoire. You can buy these discs separately so if you intend to buy only one then go for Vol. 1 with the remarkable Fogli Volanti. This music will be sure to ingratiate if you lap up Brahms, Grieg and Schumann. Sgambati had a fine mind and his pieces are often superbly structured for clarity and romantic sensibility. Spada very occasionally articulates the music stiffly. In general though, encouraged by the excellence of many of these pieces, he rises to the challenge with high honours.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Prelude and Fugue for Piano, Op. 6 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Italy 
Length: 14 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
2.
Concert Etude for Piano in D flat major, Op. 10 no 1 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
3.
Concert Etude for Piano in F sharp minor, Op. 10 no 2 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 8 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
4.
Fogli volanti, Op. 12 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1881; Italy 
Length: 22 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
5.
Pezzi di seguito (4), Op. 18 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872-1882; Italy 
Length: 20 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
6.
Symphony in D minor, Op. 16: Serenata by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
7.
Nocturne for Piano no 2 in B minor, Op. 20 no 1 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1887; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
8.
Nocturne for Piano no 3 in G major, Op. 20 no 2 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1887; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
9.
Nocturne for Piano no 4 in C minor, Op. 20 no 3 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1887; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
10.
Nocturne for Piano in B major, Op. 3 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1873; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
11.
Nocturne for Piano no 5 in D flat major, Op. 31 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
12.
Nocturne for Piano no 6, Op. 33 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
13.
Pièces lyriques (6) for Piano, Op. 23 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890; Italy 
Length: 22 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
14.
Benedizione nuziale, Op. 30 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
15.
Canzone lituana by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
16.
Melodie de Gluck by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
17.
Minuetto von Beethoven by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
18.
Sérénade valsée for Piano by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
19.
Suite for Piano in B minor, Op. 21 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1888; Italy 
Length: 28 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
20.
Romanza for Piano in A major by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
21.
Gavotta for Piano in A flat minor, Op. 14 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
22.
Morceaux (3) for Piano, Op. 42 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 9 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
23.
Serenatina for Piano in E major by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Italy 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
24.
Scherzo for Piano in E major by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
25.
Presentimento by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Italy 
Length: 1 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
26.
Mestizia by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
27.
Romanza for Piano in F major by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
28.
Mélodies poétiques for Piano, Op. 36 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Italy 
Length: 22 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
29.
Improvisations (5) for Piano by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 26 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
30.
Introduction and Etude Brillante for Piano by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 
31.
Etude Triomfale by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Pietro Spada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: 2000 - 2001 

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