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ADRIANO (b. 1944)
Concertino for piano, percussion and strings (2001) [15:34]
Obscure Saraband for organ, timpani, chimes and strings (2002) [12:00]
Concertino for celesta and strings (2006) [18:45]
Cryptic Sketches for brass quintet (1999) [11:00]
Sylvia Čápová-Vizváry (piano); Marek Vrábel (organ); Tomáš Nemec (celesta)
Bratislava Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Slovak Brass Quintet/Adriano
rec. Slovak Radio (Bratislava) Studios I and II, 1-5 December 2006. DDD
INEDITA PI2743 [57:29]


Experience Classicsonline

You will probably know the name of Adriano as the conductor of a substantial collection of recordings on Marco Polo. He has been especially prominent in championing the neglected works of Respighi and many film scores by Honegger. In these projects he has worked with the Slovakian Bratislava Symphony and the Moscow Symphony orchestras.

Background on Adriano is not in short supply. Try Ian Lace’s interview from 2004. I knew that Adriano was a composer from having interviewed him by email in 2001-2. Until now I had not heard any of his music. This collection of three compact orchestral concertante pieces and one work for brass quintet leaves us in no doubt as to his concentration, clarity of thought and assertive expression.

His orchestration in the first three works is very resourceful and transparent and this imparts a stark dazzle to every bar. While Adriano uses much of the resource palette of twentieth century musical expression - including dissonance - he also casts the lyrical net across his listener's field of awareness. If you are looking for examples - which are not in short supply - try the third movement of the Piano Concertino. The seamless weave of piano with other non-percussive instruments of the orchestra is remarkable as is the wonderfully resolved swirl of harp, pizzicato and piano which whirls the work into action.

His single movement Obscure Saraband might, very crudely, be likened to a sometimes Bergian, sometimes Bach-like, ‘take’ on Martinů's Concerto for Double String Orchestra and piano. Its potent Gothic sensibility conveys the sensation of standing at the edge of a dark chasm. By contrast the music sometimes expresses a devotional spirit. Obscure Saraband is a fascinating piece.

The Concertino for Celesta – again the composer steers clear of the word ‘concerto’ - juxtaposes the solo instrument with a hummingly active Bergian string band. The solo instrument takes the part of a luminous yet vulnerable commentator. The work inhabits a surreal and delicate world in which a pilgrim appears to be shouldering aside the heavy tendrils of some dream forest. Great repose is to be found in the tendresse of the central Andantino. The Allegro Giocoso finale bustles with earnest Bartókian expostulations by the strings. The whole movement is superbly painted in. Its buzzing frantic activity alternates with precious episodes of melancholy delight as at tr.8, 2:10.

The virtuosic Cryptic Sketches for brass quintet is in ten movements of which VII and VIII play without intervening break. The movements are short and – similar in mood. They are gaunt, bitter, triumphal and often full of gratingly rhythmic activity – redolent of the eldritch grotesquerie of the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition.

Original and haunting music that draws the listener back and makes one wonder what else there is in the Adriano catalogue.

Rob Barnett



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