Piano concerto; Epos and Chiari
Orchestre Philharmonique de
Radio France/Luca Pfaff with Bruno Canino (piano)
Stradivarius STR 33348
A shadowy figure for me until recently (only a few of the thriving community
of Italian composers have become household names in UK) two CDs and a
in Stuttgart have persuaded me that Ivan Fedele (b.1953)
from Milan deserves our attention - belatedly so, as he is approaching 50.
This CD is an excellent way to start.
Chiari (1981) for chamber orchestra was premiered by Gaudeamus
in Rotterdam and combined preoccupations with variation and fragmentation,
in particular the painting of Braque. In twelve sections, articulated by
free cadenzas for harp, piano and marimba placed between two halves of the
orchestra, it is swirling, complex yet lucid music which invites 'polyphonic'
listening. One is readily seduced by the attractive surface brilliance and
clarity of his sound world and sure touch with the orchestration.
Epos (1989), Fedele's prizewinning debut composition for full
symphony orchestra, has seven sections contrasting energetic, impulsive music
with calm, static reflection, these elements continuously interacting and
blurring the junctions of the quarter hour structure.
The piano concerto (1993) consolidated Fedele's position as a 'new
classicist', not a 'neo-classicist'. He uses 'closed circuits' of intervallic
relationships and places key reference points to help the listener. It is
influenced by spectral music and experiments in electronic music, avoids
literal repetition (cp. the minimalists of today) and has a flexible approach,
constantly varying the relationship between orchestra and piano in their
mutual exchanges. There are four connected sections and a substantial solo
cadenza, each section referring backwards and anticipating future developments.
The concerto was premiered in 1993 by this orchestra and conductor, and recorded
live the following year with Bruno Canino, leading exponent of his
countrymen composers including Berio, and admired by Seen&Heard
recently in London.
If you find my summary inscrutable, I fear you will abandon the seriously
opaque commentary in the liner notes, which seems to be for fellow musicologists,
but don't be deterred from making the acquaintance of a truly original voice
of today and a composer of sensibility with consummate skill to convey his
musical thinking in sound, however it may defy description in words.
The recording sounds fine and since it all has to be heard at least twice
you should not regard its 52 minutes as short measure.
Peter Grahame Woolf