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Dallapiccola - Orchestral Works 2 / Noseda, BBC Philharmonic

Dallapiccola / Keith / Watkins / Bbc Phil / Noseda
Release Date: 01/26/2010 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10561  
Composer:  Luigi Dallapiccola
Performer:  Gillian KeithPaul Watkins
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

One of the finest discs to have come my way recently...

Dallapiccola’s Partita, composed between 1930 and 1932, is the work that put him firmly on the international musical map. Remarkably enough, his exact contemporary Petrassi made his first mark with a similarly titled work, also completed in 1932. Though each draws on old musical forms, albeit viewed through modern eyes, Petrassi’s output is more overtly neo-classical than that of Dallapiccola. The latter’s work is also considerably more ambitious. The opening Passacaglia grows from the depths of the orchestra and unfolds as an archaic chant, as Calum MacDonald has it, building-up to an imposing climax before slowly returning to the dark mood of the opening. This
Read more leads straight into the Burlesca, a nervous Scherzo with a calmer trio section. After a short pause comes the third movement Recitativo e Fanfara opening with a short-lived violent outburst followed by a mysterious, almost static section suggesting a Nocturne. This is abruptly disrupted by an angry fanfare introducing a new theme. This section eventually climaxes with a forceful restatement of the opening fanfare followed by an appeased coda leading straight into the finale: a beautiful, delicately scored setting of a Mediaeval lullaby to the Blessed Virgin. Material from the previous movements reappears in hugely varied guise. After reaching a brief but telling climax, the piece ends in utter serenity. Dallapiccola’s Partita is a truly beautiful piece of music that should definitely be heard more often. This is its first modern outing; there has existed a live recording of it made in 1968 (Bruna Rizzoli and Orchestra RAI Torino conducted by Sergiu Celibidache, once available on Stradivarius STR 13608). Fine as it is, it cannot match the splendour of the version under review.

Dialoghi for cello and orchestra was composed in 1959/60 and dedicated to Gaspar Cassadó for whom Dallapiccola also wrote his triptych for solo cello Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio (1945). The work falls into five sections, all based on a note-row stated at the outset by the cello and tightly worked-out. It is scored for large orchestral forces although these are rarely used in tutti. The scoring has a chamber-like transparency that often brings several other works scored for chamber orchestra such as Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado and, more generally, the music of Webern to mind. Though this is probably one of the composer’s most personal achievements, Dialoghi is a restrained, enigmatic piece “whose fine-drawn lines enshrine, rather than directly express inner intensity” (Calum MacDonald). It is a tough nut to crack, but one well worth the effort. Paul Watkins is a superb musician possessing both the technique and the musicality to bring this understated but highly rewarding piece to life.

Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado was originally written for voice and piano in 1948 and scored for chamber orchestra in 1964. This short cycle sets four brief texts by the Spanish poet who was a staunch advocate of the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War and whose poetry much appealed to Dallapiccola. The four settings are based on a tone-row associated with words found in the third song (“Lord, we are alone now, my heart and the sea”). Remarkably enough this series and these words will be heard again in the opening scene of the composer’s much later opera Ulisse. This short cycle is a perfect example of Dallapiccola’s innate lyricism.

Three Questions with Two Answers is Dallapiccola’s last orchestral work. It was composed when the composer was already working on Ulisse and this score is at times thematically linked to the opera. Although the composer gave some clues concerning the three questions (Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?), he did not provide any clue as to the answers except by saying that the answer to the last question is to be found in the opera’s last scene when Ulysses sails away from Ithaca for the last time. The first question is meditative and its answer is mostly reflective. The second question is brutal and violent and it is answered by dark, ominous music – actually music accompanying Ulysses’ encounter with the souls of the dead. The third question, though tense and anguished, “yet shot through towards the end with a luminous sense of tranquillity” will eventually remain unanswered.

Dallapiccola’s music may not be easy but is ultimately richly rewarding on repeated hearings, especially when helped by committed and carefully prepared readings such as these. The recording and the production of this release are up to Chandos’s best standards. I must also single-out Calum MacDonald’s well-informed and illuminating insert notes from which I have lavishly quoted. This is one of the finest discs to have come my way recently; and, before ending up in my list of Recordings of the Year, it will be my Record of the Month. I now know that I must rush and get Volume 1 (CHAN 10258: Tartiniana - Divertimento for Violin and Orchestra (1951); Due Pezzi for Orchestra (1947); Piccola Musica Notturna (1954); Frammenti Sinfonici dal Balletto 'Marsia' (1942-43; 1947); Variazioni per Orchestra (1953-54)).

-- Hubert Culot, MusicWeb International


DALLAPICCOLA Partita 1. Dialoghi 2. 4 liriche di Antonio Machado 1. 3 Questions with 2 Answers Gianandrea Noseda, cond; 1 Gillian Keith (sop); 2 Paul Watkins (vc); BBC Philharmonic CHANDOS 10561 (67:21)

This is Volume 2 in the Chandos series of the orchestral works of Luigi Dallapiccola, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Volume 1 was a 2005 Want List item for critic Peter Burwasser, and this disc is a worthy successor. As anyone cognizant of Dallapiccola knows, he was the foremost proponent of dodecaphony in Italy, and apart from the Second Viennese School in Europe generally. His handling of that abstract and thorny idiom was tempered, however, by an innate Italian lyricism that made it less forbidding and more accessible, and also genuinely adaptable to opera, his Il prigionero and Ulisse both being dramatic and musical masterpieces.

Of the four works offered here, primary attention goes to the longest (almost 30 minutes), the Partita , which first brought the composer to international attention and here receives its premiere recording. At this point Dallapiccola had not yet embraced serialism, so the work is still written in a tonal idiom, albeit one often unmoored by departures into whole-tone, modal, and chromatic elements. It already presents a highly original voice; at most, a few passages bear a fleeting relation to one of Prokofiev’s spikier scores from the 1920s. The opening Passacaglia has the weighty, determined, measured tread of that dance form. The following Burlesca begins with a wild flurry of woodwind skittering that subsides into a subdued, melancholic trio section. A succeeding Recitativo e Fanfara opens with dissonant chords that immediately give way to drifting, extraterrestrial-sounding sustained lines, after which the orchestra vehemently returns with increasingly violent reiterations. The finale, Naenia B.V.M. ( Lullaby of the Blessed Virgin Mary ), which follows without pause, brings a startling change in mood. As a soprano voice intones a medieval hymn text of Mary singing the infant Jesus to sleep—exquisitely sung by soprano Gillian Keith—the orchestra dissolves into shimmering high strings, while Dallapiccola cradles the text in a gentle, rocking, oscillating melody on the woodwinds. Celesta, harp, and bells bring heavenly rest and welcome solace from the preceding aural labor and strife.

The booklet notes concede that the Dialoghi “has conventionally been thought of as one of Dallapiccola’s more recherché creations, and has been comparatively seldom performed.” In this case the conventional wisdom is absolutely right; the work is simply unattractive and tedious. In it Dallapiccola regrettably deserted his usual style for one far more akin to that of Webern—lots of fragmentary peeps and plinks, with the cello mostly treated as a percussion instrument, subjected to much plucking and scraping. Soloist Paul Watkins copes the best anyone can.

The Quattro liriche are another matter. Here, in these highly compressed works (lasting six minutes total), arranged by the composer for chamber orchestra from the original piano version, Dallapiccola demonstrates extraordinary ingenuity in treating his 12-tone rows in a manner that deceives the ear into assuming the pieces to be tonally based, even imparting a distinct Spanish sound to the melodic patterns and harmonies. Once again, Keith is an exemplary soloist. As far as I can tell, this is the first recording of the chamber orchestra version.

The Three Questions with Two Answers was an orchestral trial run for the music that would eventually become Dallapiccola’s opera Ulisse , and presages that work’s long dramatic arc as a symbolic quest for truth and meaning. The three questions are “Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?” Enigmatically, the answers are not specified; musically, they correspond in the opera to the monologue of the nymph Calypso musing on Ulysses’ wanderings, and the encounter of Ulysses with souls in Hades. The composer confided to a friend that the answer to the third question would be the final scene of the opera, in which Ulysses resumes his wanderings and has an epiphany of God. The music—fragmentary, groping, with extended soft passages interrupted by occasional violent agitated outbursts—suitably reflects a stumbling search for the infinite by a frail finite mind, and does so far more successfully and attractively than the similarly five-part Dialoghi.

The recording features exemplary Chandos sound, spacious, full, warm, and clear. Noseda’s commitment to and authority in these scores is evident at every turn, and the orchestra responds to his guidance superbly. This easily tops a previous Stradivarius CD featuring the Three Questions and Dialoghi , and there is no alternative for the Partita . Despite my personal aversion to the Dialoghi , I highly recommend this disc to all lovers of 20th-century music in general and Dallapiccola in particular.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Partita by Luigi Dallapiccola
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
Liriche (4) di Antonio Machado by Luigi Dallapiccola
Performer:  Gillian Keith (Soprano)
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948/1964; Italy 
Dialoghi for Cello and Orchestra by Luigi Dallapiccola
Performer:  Paul Watkins (Cello)
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; Italy 
Three Questions with Two Answers by Luigi Dallapiccola
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; Italy 

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