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Dallapiccola: a portrait & "piano rarities"

Sonatina Canonica in mi bemolle, su ‘Capricci’ di Niccolò Paganini (1942-43)
Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera (1952)
Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado per canto e pianoforte (1948)
Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio per violoncello solo (1945)
Goethe-Lieder per una voce di mezzo soprano e tre clarinetti (1953)
Tre episodi dal balletto MARSIA (1949)

David Wilde piano
Susan Hamilton soprano
Robert Irvine ‘cello
Nicola Stonehouse mezzo-soprano

Delphian DCD34020 [TT: 74:12]

This is, first, a CD production of rare perfection; a model for other companies, especially in respect of the booklet design and editing. It came in a large New Year batch of enticing music, so this appreciation will be necessarily briefer than it deserves.

Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-75) is one of the twentieth century's most listener-friendly serialists. His music never outstays its welcome, so there is room for his complete works for solo piano, interspersed with songs and a cello solo. All are compact major works, and the whole is clearly a labour of love sustained through a recording period from 2003 until release in 2006. The lynchpin is pianist David Wilde, supported by lovely singing from Susan Hamilton and Nicola Stonehouse, and the solo ‘cello of Robert Irvine, all of them exemplary and recorded with appropriate immediacy.

The pervading mood of this fastidious composer's music is one of quiet rapture, with phrases hanging in the air like some moments of Webern or Kurtag. To pin Dallapiccola down in a phrase, his Machado songs "show the composer's mastery of serial technique in its most beguiling light" (David Kimbell).

Back to the editing and type-setting (Drew Padrutt) - nothing fancy, no colour save for a touch of sepia in the historic cover photo of Dallapiccola with little Annalibera (the Quaderno was written for her eighth birthday); print clear black on white, with Kimbell's authorative and readable article, full texts and song translations - the rest of the material in English only, which solves the jewel case space problem and hopefully (with this repertoire) doesn't leave too many purchasers struggling.

You'll be able to read fuller reviews elsewhere, but if you've got some holiday money over, don't hesitate...

" Dallapiccola's commitment to traditional expressive nuance has been seen by critics as a powerful aspect of his Italian insistence upon ‘cantabilita' – songfulness."

Piano rarities

Piccolo Concerto
Sonatina Canonica (after Paganini) for piano
Tre episodi dal balletto Marsia for piano
Quaderno musicale di Annalibera, for piano
Pieces for orchestra 1. Sarabanda 2. Fanfara e Fuga

Pietro Massa piano
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Peter Hirsch

Capriccio CD 5045

Here is a delectable disc of earlier Dallapiccola. The "little" Concerto for Piano & Chamber Orchestra (1938-41) is delicious, a neo-classical work dating from when Dallapiccola was living under fascism. Well put across.

Of the other works, the Quaderna musicale di Annalibera (1952) is quite well known (see above) and the Marsia episodes are transcriptions. Of the two orchestral pieces, the Sarabande insinuates itself pleasantly as a change from piano tone, before its sequel bursts upon the ears, bringing the whole to a rousing conclusion with a fugue struture which is easily followed (they are ignored by the notes-writer).

Two recommendable discs which go well together.

Peter Grahame woolf