Luigi Dallapiccola -----> Classical Music Reviews

Luigi Dallapiccola Three Questions with Two Answers (1963) Bruno Maderna Aura (1972); Widmung (1969); PiEece pour Ivry (1971) BBC Symphony Orchestra Directed by Zolt.n PeskU Georg M^nch - violin Recorded in June 1977 (Three Questions and Aura) and 1978 (Widmung and PiEece pour Ivry) Warner Fonit 0927 43406-2 TPT 57'25" This disc is under a series label of "contemporanea", which seems somewhat out of place in the 21st century. Admittedly, there are still a great many concert-goers who consider Dallapiccola, Ligeti or even Messian to be dangerously `modern' and incomprehensible, but it is salutary to note that both Dallapiccola and Maderna have now been dead for nearly 30 years and the pieces recorded on this disc were composed between 30 and 38 years ago. This is very much music of the late-middle period of last century and we can now begin to appraise it in some light of an historical context. Taken in this way, it seems much less startling or daring than it did. The performances here recorded are digital remasterings of the first European performances and once again show the BBC Symphony Orchestra as one of Britain's outstanding ensembles in the promotion of (what was then) new music. The performances are intensely committed and fervent. The angular gestures of Maderna's "Aura" revealing particularly dramatic playing from the percussion and trombone sections. In contrast the soulful wanderings of the solo violin in Widmung (German for `dedication') played by Georg M^nch produce a virtuoso display of contrasts between introspection and extended bravura. Even the passages of introspection dwell extensively in the uppermost tessitura of the violin. The recording is surprisingly lively, even to the extent of capturing the background noise of the bowhairs on the string behind the sound of the string itself. Dallapiccola's "Three Questions with Two Answers" is a similarly diffident work for orchestra but the overall result is something much more ethereal. Once again it is odd to think that this could have been considered incomprehensibly modern as the work is clearly in the linear tradition of late 20th century symphonic writing. A piece of tremendous beauty it has clear echoes of Messian and even shows origins extending back to the `Epilogue' finale of Vaughan William's sixth symphony. Here too the BBC Symphony plays with fervent relish; an almost unsustainable level of pianissimo intensity carried for fully 20 minutes. Very impressive and surprisingly beautiful. (c) 2002. Peter Wells

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