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Giacinto Scelsi

Preludi, Serie I – IV
[world premiere recordings]

Alessandra Ammara, piano


ARTS 47721-8 [TT: 73 mins]


This is a very important recording, some forty tracks of early piano compositions by the great, though still controversial, composer who has been extensively featured in Musical Pointers.

Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) left us with many mysteries. Many of his works were, so it is understood, semi-improvised on his Bechstein and an early electric instrument with microtonal capability (illustrated) which he showed us when we visited him at his palace overlooking Rome's Forum.

In later life Scelsi almost completely deserted the piano because of its rigid equal-tempered tuning and many of his works were transcribed by assistants, throwing doubt upon their authenticity...

Alessandra Ammara has devoted herself to the cause for some years, with a recital in Rome celebrating the Scelsi Centenary in 2005. The Historic Archive of the Isabella Scelsi Foundation has made it possible to start to shed light on his early works and one hopes that the scores will, through the good offices of „Fondazione Isabella Scelsi“, soon become available, maybe some of them in the composer's own hand...

The pieces here, collected in four Series, are disconcertingly various in length and idiom. There are 'aphorisms, exercises in style, work notes, harmonic experiments, tone explorations'. Some are fiercely modernist, a few show clear influences of serialism, others are deeply emotional with 'distant oneiric and magic moods' [Alessandra Ammara].

The performances sound fine and the documentation is extensive, with a lengthy essay by Allesandra Carlotta Pellegrin and descriptive notes on nearly all the individual pieces by the pianist herself (those for Nos 35-37 escaped by accident, although there is space for them).

I have learned newly, from the notes with this release, that the first group, Serie 1, was indeed published (De Santis, 1947) and those twelve have been recorded first by Donna Amato, whose CD (which contains other works with which I am familiar) I shall return to soon (Stradivarius STV333804).

Peter Grahame Woolf

see also: http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/scelsi%20_hinterhauser.htm


and http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/ScelsiUittiECM.htm