Author Topic: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony  (Read 4584 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« on: August 14, 2007, 02:54:04 PM »
One does not usually associate Italy in the last century with the Symphony as a musical form. Respighi wrote an early, derivative(albeit sumptuous) Sinfonia Drammatica but towering figures of Italian music like Goffredo Petrassi and Luigi Dallapiccola did not write symphonies. (Petrassi did compose a very fine-if increasingly difficult, I find-series of 8 Concerti for Orchestra).

I invested some years ago in the Marco Polo set of Gian Francesco Mailipiero's eleven numbered symphonies and five other named sinfonias played by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by the late Antonio de Almeida. These are fascinating compositions, rightly acclaimed by the leading Malipiero expert John Waterhouse. While applauding Marco Polo and de Almeida's enterprise however, I cannot but feel that the performances are not much better than "run-throughs" by the Moscow players. These works need much better performances to reveal their real depth. I would though certainly encourage others to give these symphonies a try! Anyone else know the recordings?

I am also intrigued to hear the single Symphony composed by Ildebrando Pizzetti which, I have read, is a fine work. Alfredo Casella wrote two early symphonies(apparently influenced by Mahler) and a third symphony at the beginning of the Second World War but none of these is currently available-Casella's music is only slowly beginning to be played much again after his very high pre-war reputation was damaged by his associations with Mussolini's Fascist regime.

CPO(again!) did record a couple of symphonies by Franco Alfano-primarily another composers of Italian operas-but I would certainly not rate these as masterpieces.

Many do tend to think of Italy-at least pre the Berio, Nono, Maderna era(of which I am totally incompetent to speak!!)-as a country of opera. It is worth taking some time perhaps to explore those composers who also wrote symphonic music.

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2007, 01:08:44 PM »
Hi Dundonnell. I'm a huge Malipiero fan. He's easily my Italian favorite composer so far (Nono, Berio, Maderna I'm just trying to know better lately).

Here's a topic I started on Malipiero: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,1264.0.html

I've collected all of his symphonies, my faves being the First, the Second, the Fifth, the Sixth and the "Sinfonia per Antigenida".
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 01:53:57 PM by Scriptavolant »

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2007, 01:28:43 PM »


Many do tend to think of Italy-at least pre the Berio, Nono, Maderna era(of which I am totally incompetent to speak!!)-as a country of opera. It is worth taking some time perhaps to explore those composers who also wrote symphonic music.

Of course. And I forgot to say that for what concerns 20th Century symphonic music I think we should mention Giuseppe Martucci, who wrote two symphonies, the First completed in 1895 (we're almost there  :D), and the Second in 1904.
So far I've listened quite carefully only to the First, which is a very interesting work, some say of Brahmsian descent and I can figure out why. I would recommend these works too.


Offline Brewski

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2007, 01:34:20 PM »
The two works I've heard by Martucci I've enjoyed a lot: Notturno and the Piano Concerto No. 2, both conducted by Riccardo Muti (who seems to be a champion of this composer).  Definitely worth checking out.  Those symphonies sound quite interesting.

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Offline The new erato

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2007, 01:54:57 PM »
As far as I have been told, most major Italian cities don't have (or didn't use to have) symphony halls, only opera theatres. That is supported by the fact that most orchestral recordings of Italian origin are done by opera orchestras or orchestras of the public radio corporation (RAI). That is probably one reason for the relatively weak Italian orchestral tradition.

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2007, 06:21:08 PM »
The two works I've heard by Martucci I've enjoyed a lot: Notturno and the Piano Concerto No. 2, both conducted by Riccardo Muti (who seems to be a champion of this composer).  Definitely worth checking out.  Those symphonies sound quite interesting.

--Bruce

Toscanini directed Martucci quite often too. I've got an historical recording of his Piano Concerto No. 2 and Notturno, Novelletta, Tarantella from 1946. You should try his symphonies.

Symphonien

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2007, 06:49:35 PM »
Berio's Sinfonia!!!

That's the only one I know, but it's extremely good.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2007, 10:48:51 AM »
You may not be surprised to hear that I've also been collecting Malipiero symphonies on Marco Polo; highlights for me are the disc with Symphonies 3 and 4 on and, more recently, Symphony 7 "delle canzoni". If you don't know them I also strongly recommend the string quartets (especially No 5), great value on Brilliant Classics.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2007, 04:01:21 PM »
Well, here's the third movement (Allegretto) from Martucci's 1st Symphony (1895), for the ones who maybe want to get into this composer whose symphonic output - as Michel Chion wrote - deserves more attention.

http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?bx209t4fmj2


Offline Earthlight

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2007, 05:35:40 PM »
While applauding Marco Polo and de Almeida's enterprise however, I cannot but feel that the performances are not much better than "run-throughs" by the Moscow players.

I've heard three of them, and yeah, I've always felt that these symphonies wanted better performances, in a better sonic environment, with better engineering. (Outside of that, they're just great.) Usually when it comes to under-recorded and underappreciated composers, I take what I can get and try not to whinge too much, but the Marco Polo performances I've heard are pretty obviously lacking.

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2007, 05:49:51 PM »
I've heard three of them, and yeah, I've always felt that these symphonies wanted better performances, in a better sonic environment, with better engineering. (Outside of that, they're just great.) Usually when it comes to under-recorded and underappreciated composers, I take what I can get and try not to whinge too much, but the Marco Polo performances I've heard are pretty obviously lacking.

The MSO/De Almeida Serie is infact ruined by an over-reverberation which blurs the polyphonic lines and tends to become hypnotic after a while.
As far as I know, there's only one alternative recording, which is Bruno Maderna conducting the "Sinfonia dello Zodiaco" in 1951 with the Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai. I've downloaded the file long ago; it's just another story.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2007, 11:23:14 AM »
Of course. And I forgot to say that for what concerns 20th Century symphonic music I think we should mention Giuseppe Martucci, who wrote two symphonies, the First completed in 1895 (we're almost there  :D), and the Second in 1904.
So far I've listened quite carefully only to the First, which is a very interesting work, some say of Brahmsian descent and I can figure out why. I would recommend these works too.



Thanks for reminding me about Martucci, Scriptavolant. I had another listen to his two symphonies today in the BIS version with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kees Bakels. Sadly, I found them a bit underwhelming-rather sub-Brahms/Tchaikovsky/early Sibelius. I am afraid that I am not a particularly great fan of late 19th century romantic music outside of the great masters of that period.

I am delighted to hear however that you like Malipiero's music! Have you had the opportunity-since I think that you are in Italy-of hearing much Casella or Pizzetti? Hyperion brought out an album of Pizzetti's music a few years ago and I had hoped that the Symphony would follow but it has not so far done so.

Scriptavolant

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Re: 20th Century Italy and the Symphony
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2007, 12:14:33 PM »
Thanks for reminding me about Martucci, Scriptavolant. I had another listen to his two symphonies today in the BIS version with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kees Bakels. Sadly, I found them a bit underwhelming-rather sub-Brahms/Tchaikovsky/early Sibelius. I am afraid that I am not a particularly great fan of late 19th century romantic music outside of the great masters of that period.

I am delighted to hear however that you like Malipiero's music! Have you had the opportunity-since I think that you are in Italy-of hearing much Casella or Pizzetti? Hyperion brought out an album of Pizzetti's music a few years ago and I had hoped that the Symphony would follow but it has not so far done so.

Yes I think the composers you cited are undoubtable influences; I'm glad you cited Sibelius. Recently I've been listening to the 2nd Symphony and found much Sibelius in it, but I was uncertain whether Martucci could have listened to Sibelius at the time. Furthermore, they seem to represent quite opposite musical universes.
Nevertheless I think Martucci gives a personal shape to these works, and I've found them quite enjoyable.

For what concerns Pizzetti and Casella, I don't know them very well. I've had very little, occasional listening of Casella's "Scarlattiana" and Pizzetti "Assassinio nella cattedrale", after Thomas Eliot's drama.

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