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Martucci: Complete Orchestral Works / D'avalos, Et Al


Release Date: 10/09/2007 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93439   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  James ClarkGeorge IvesFrancesco CaramielloRachel Yakar
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 6 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Giuseppe Martucci, contemporary of Puccini, eschewed opera for orchestral writing and here are the complete recordings of those works. "A turn-of-the-century Italian Bax? A late romantic Berwald?" These are excellent performances and recordings by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Francesco D'Avalos, originally released on ASV.

Box set contains 4 CDs in colorful cardboard sleeves with a detailed 11 page booklet. Notes on each work in English are by the conductor, Francesco D'Avalos.

R E V I E W S

"The case for investigating Martucci gets more and more urgent with each work of his that comes to light. The reasons for his fall into neglect seem obvious: he was the one Italian
Read more composer of an operatic generation (Puccini's generation) to eschew opera entirely; he had separate and most influential careers as pianist, then as conductor and educationalist, and these activities must have reduced the time available for composing and promoting his compositions; and besides, he died young.

There may be another, deeper reason. His music does have its own individual voice, and an attractive one, but it is elusive and rather difficult to describe without dragging in the names of other composers, thus making him sound derivative. Even the evidently enthusiastic conductor of these performances says in his note on the symphony's first movement that ''though the writing is clearly post-Brahmsian its overall incisiveness is reminiscent of Beethoven and Schumann''. I was more often reminded of Bruckner, honestly, and of a sort of giant Mendelssohn, but even as I write those names I feel that I am selling Martucci short. It is paradoxically easier to isolate the Martucciness of Martucci in the scherzo, where the model is self-evidently Brahms (the corresponding movement of Brahms's Second Symphony, to be precise). But would Brahms have pointed out, with such self-deprecating wit, a shrug of the shoulders and a gesture of outstretched hands, that his theme consisted in essence of nothing but two notes, could Brahms have written such a very odd coda? In it Martucci seems to be saying ''Ladies and gentlemen, there are all sorts of things I could do at this point; if it comes to that I could have made a quite different movement out of this material, but on the whole I think I'll just stop''. And yet the movement is not light-weight not a joke. Both themes of the finale, likewise, are essentially not much more than rising scalic figures—another Martucci oddity: he rather likes constructing movements from similar, not contrasting themes. But then you notice how good he is at sustaining both momentum and interest in what ought to be rather samey music by the use of constant, fantasy-like variation. The slow movement, with its two lyrical ideas inhabiting much the same world, is characteristic: the ideas seem to grow both in eloquence and individuality as he quietly discusses them, one is surprised when the movement ends that it has lasted for nine minutes.

The shorter pieces give fair idea of what the range of the rest of his music might be like (we shall be finding out what it is like: this collection is labelled ''Volume 1''), from the quirky humour of the Novelletta and the warm lyricism of the Notturno to the turbulence not quite hiding something dangerously formidable of the Danza. The performances are a bit over-enthusiastic at times, bassy richness of sound emphasized at the expense of a touch of clarity, but d'Avalos's committedness to Martucci is never in doubt. Excellent playing, and a decent if rather close recording."

-- Michael Oliver, GRAMOPHONE ( Review of original release ASV 675)

"The Martucci case gets curiouser and curiouser with every recording of his music that emerges. The Second Symphony, regarded by Francesco d'Avalos as his most important work, is also the most elusive that I have yet heard. The problem, it seems to me, is that Martucci, in this work above all, was a fundamentally contrapuntal thinker, and one whose music is all development. His scherzo, an enormously clever and engaging piece, does not have the expected principal theme plus a 'second subject' or a contrasted idea in a trio section: it has a whole complex of mostly brief ideas which are seldom if ever heard singly. Plucked from the continual contrapuntal flux the thematic cells discussed in that movement would have kept Bruckner in scherzo material for years, but it is no part of their function to be isolated in that way, or for any idea to be so assertive that it can be heard as the theme, with everything else in some way subsidiary. To that extent Martucci's melodies do lack the sort of positive individuality that would identify them immediately as his and no one else's. I suspect that he really did think in terms of inextricably interwoven thematic groups, and his music as a consequence needs very close, even rigorous listening.

The process causes no pain; heard in crosssection, so to speak, his music sounds reassuringly mainstream-romantic. And he does reward the attentive listener (or console the baffled inattentive one) with beautiful textures (the very opening of the work, a Sibelian hushed murmur; the wonderful haunted, shadowed music for low strings towards the end of the slow movement) and with the occasional overt isolation of a long melodic line. But the need to be continually aware of background becoming foreground, to be as absorbed as Martucci obviously was with music as process (simultaneous process as often as not: three things happening at once and all three changing) does not make him an easy composer, grateful though his surfaces often are. Some listeners, inevitably, will find him needlessly complex and will be insufficiently rewarded by the fascination of his endlessly fertile combinatorial skill.

A turn-of-the-century Italian Bax? A late romantic Berwald? He is a similarly acquired taste, at all events (I am acquiring that taste rapidly). The B flat Andante is archetypal, densely developed Martucci, but with a long, plangently lyrical cello solo to hang on to and guide the ear; the very early Colore orientale is a colourful genre piece, a concert march with a somewhat Russian flavour to it. Excellent performances and recordings (the thickness of some of the climaxes is not d'Avalos's or ASV's fault)."

-- Michael Oliver, GRAMOPHONE ( Review of original release ASV 689)

"Martucci's Second Piano Concerto had at one time something of an international reputation (it was taken up by D'Albert and Horszowski, among others, and was conducted by Anton Rubinstein, Toscanini, Weingarther and Mahler, often with the composer as soloist), and of his larger-scale works it is perhaps the most readily approachable and the one most likely to lead to a revival of interest in him. Writing for his own instrument (and for what, by all accounts, was a prodigious technique) seems to have led Martucci towards a more direct late romantic utterance. It is a highly pianistic piece, indeed, very big-gestured and often enjoyably flamboyant, and if it lacks something of the quirky originality of his symphonies it has much of their confident assurance. It is a big work (40 minutes, with the first movement taking up more than half of it), but it is so resourcefully worked (including, in that first movement, an adroit handling of three well-contrasted ideas instead of the customary two) that it seems not a moment too long. Not even in the slow movement, where at first the main idea seems attractively pensive but a bit plain. Here a characteristic touch of Martucci's individuality does come in; his way of subtly transforming a theme until you are surprised that you didn't notice its inherent beauty earlier.

Nor is the virtuosity mere empty flamboyance; it has steel and fantasy to it, as well; in the finale even wit. In short, of the two classes of romantic virtuoso concerto (those you are glad to have on record but would honestly not cross the town actually to hear, and those that you are rather irritated with the world's virtuosos for not having taken up before) this is firmly in the latter category, and it is good to have such an assured and authoritative performance of it.

The six little miniatures, despite disparate opus numbers, fall into two diminutive suites. Light music, all of them, and perhaps without the effortlessly memorable melodic distinction of the very best light music, but each piece has some other quality to persuade you to play it again; an oddly quiet ending (most of them end quietly), an elusive melodic twist (like the curiously effective Momento musicale, built from fragments of scales, no more), a touch of sophisticated craft lavished on a trifle. They are very Martucci, in short, and you may well find that you don't treat them as mere makeweights, to be listened to once in a while, if you have time, after the concerto. They are affectionately performed and, like the concerto, recorded in a pleasingly warm but slightly woolly acoustic."

-- Michael Oliver, GRAMOPHONE ( Review of original release ASV 691)
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in D minor, Op. 75 by Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  James Clark (Violin)
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1895; Italy 
2.
Noveletta, Op. 82 no 2 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Italy 
Notes: Composer: Giuseppe Martucci. 
3.
Nocturnes (2), Op. 70: no 1 in G flat major by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Italy 
Notes: Composer: Giuseppe Martucci. 
4.
Tarantella, Op. 44 no 6 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1878; Italy 
Notes: Composer: Giuseppe Martucci. 
5.
Symphony no 2 in F major, Op. 81 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
6.
Pieces (3) for Cello and Piano, Op. 69: no 2, Andante in B flat major by Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  George Ives (Cello)
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Italy 
7.
Colore orientale, Op. 44 no 3 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Italy 
8.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor by Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  Francesco Caramiello (Piano)
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Italy 
9.
La canzone dei ricordi by Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  Rachel Yakar (Soprano)
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1886-1887; Italy 
10.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, Op. 66 by Giuseppe Martucci
Performer:  Francesco Caramiello (Piano)
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Italy 
11.
Minuetto, Op. 55 no 1 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Italy 
12.
Tempo di gavotta, Op. 55 no 2 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Italy 
13.
Prelude, Toccata and Gigue for Piano, Op. 61: Gigue by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; Italy 
14.
Capriccio, Op. 57 no 1 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Italy 
15.
Serenata, Op. 57 no 2 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Italy 
16.
Momento musicale, Op. 64 no 1 by Giuseppe Martucci
Conductor:  Francesco D'Avalos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 

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