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Complete Piano Concertos 1-6 Variazioni Senza Tema Hybrid SACD - DSD

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, October 30, 2007
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Piano Concerto No. 1: Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1: Andante
  3. Piano Concerto No. 1: Allegro
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2: Allegro, molto marcato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 2: Lento
  6. Piano Concerto No. 2: Allegro
  7. Piano Concerto No. 3: Allegro
  8. Piano Concerto No. 3: Lento
  9. Piano Concerto No. 3: Allegro agitato

Disc: 2

  1. Piano Concerto No. 4: Allegro
  2. Piano Concerto No. 4: Lento
  3. Piano Concerto No. 4: Allegro vivace
  4. Piano Concerto No. 5: Allegro
  5. Piano Concerto No. 5: Non troppo lento
  6. Piano Concerto No. 5: Allegro
  7. Piano Concerto No. 6 'Delle macchine': Allegro
  8. Piano Concerto No. 6 'Delle macchine': Lento
  9. Piano Concerto No. 6 'Delle macchine': Allegro
  10. Variazioni senza tema, for piano & orchestra


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Rundfunkorchester Saarbrucken
  • Conductor: Michele Carulli
  • Composer: G.F. Malipiero
  • Audio CD (October 30, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: CPO
  • ASIN: B000VQQJO4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,461 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The classical music world has an embarrassingly low number of recent Malipiero recordings but thankfully the CPO label has produced an exquisite recording of his piano concerti, with the clarity and engineering precision for which the label is known. The Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra put on an inspired performance, keeping in line with the spontaneity Malipiero's writing is known for, while Sandro Ivo Bartoli's Italian heritage does well in translating Malipiero's deft and spritely piano language.

Often in liner notes and other historical writings on Malipiero, authors will point out the frequent disparity of quality between Malipiero's compositions. Here, the second concerto is criticized as little more than a practice piece, an after-thought of the composer trying to purposelessly put pen to paper. I must disagree. The simplicity of the second concerto creates its own charm, and is most evident in the quaint second movement. Here Malipiero displays a different side of his compositional nature, using restraint to go against his innate proclivities for melodic precociousness. Instead our ears are rewarded with a lilting, beautiful melody that's reminiscent of the finest pastoral interludes. But what is arguably the finest piece of the bunch is his remarkable fourth concerto, with its ebullient opening, displaying a perfect marriage of piano trills and castanet-like percussion. Later, in traditional Malipiero fashion, we're given numerous angular melodies, haunting instrumental duets dotted throughout, all bridged wonderfully with brilliant splashes of virtuosic piano cadenzas.

The piano concerti probably do not deserve to stand alongside the relevance his string quartets do with other twentieth-century masters, but they are significant to this Master's repertoire, and this recording is a rather fine representation of them.
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On two discs here, we get all six of the piano concertos written by iconoclastic Italian composer Gian Francesco Malipiero. (1882-1973) The discs hold super audio surround sound, plus a regular red book CD layer. He finished the first in 1934, the second in 1937, then went on to do a third (1948), a fourth (1950), a fifth (1958), and a sixth (1964). Our piano soloist is Sandro Ivo Bartoli, who studied at home in Italy and in London at the Royal Academy of Music. His mentor, Russian pianist Shura Cherkassky encouraged him to specialize in the relatively neglected Italian composers of the first decades of the past century. Our band is the Saarbrucken Radio, which has something of a well-deserved reputation for its own attentions to twentieth-century music under the direct leadership of conductor-composers like Bruno Maderna or Hans Zender or Bern Zimmerman, supplemented by a starry roster of music directors and guest conductors. The current music director is Michael Stern, son of famed violinist Isaac Stern.

Summing up Malipiero's style in music, even in the multiple streams of twentieth-century music, is not particularly easy. Some elements are fairly clear on first hearing. Malipiero is a past master of tonal color and he knows a lot about how to make the orchestra flow, float, shine, and sparkle. In that regard, we can consider him a distant musical cousin to that better known Italian, Ottorino Respighi. Yes, that would be the very composer who wrote those three huge and popular tone poems, Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome, and Roman Festivals.

If we come to Malipiero expecting Respighi redux, though, we are going to be confounded. Other elements contribute to a fascinating sound with an accessible, yet still elusive, modernist sense of style.
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