With this release, justice is at last done to one of the great figures of twentieth-century Italian music. An immensely cultured humanist, resolute in his defence of political and personal liberty, Luigi Dallapiccola conveys powerful emotional impact in his music. His final masterpiece, the opera Ulisse, which premiered in Berlin in 1968 after eight years of work, recounts the voyage both of Homers hero and of man himself, in his quest for eternal truths. The many influences, literary (Joyce, Machado, Dante above all) and musical (from Monteverdi to Berg) are perfectly integrated into a vast epic in the form of an arch, from Calypsos solitude at the opening through to the heros final moment of wonder, alone with the sea once more: the dramas centre is Ulysses descent into the underworld and the prophecy of Tiresias. This noble meditation on human existence is supported by masterly musical technique in which the rigour of the serial style is always tempered by the cantabile of the composers Italian heritage: did Dallapiccola not say that his aim was above all to make the words audible and understandable? The Radio France Collection today gives a new lease of life to this moving recapitulation of a whole life's work, long unavailable on record, the release of a benchmark performance recorded in 1975, less than three months after the composer's death. No more glowing tribute has been paid to him than the inspired conducting of one of the most eminent specialists of the music of his century, who died in his turn two years ago: the great Ernest Bour.
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