|About this Recording
8.572890 - MAGNANI, A.: Virtuoso Clarinet Works - Divertimenti / Elegia / Melodia romantica / Mazurka-Caprice (Bosi, R. Bartoli)
Aurelio Magnani (1856–1921)
A pupil of Domenico Liverani and Alessandro Busi, Magnani graduated in clarinet and composition from Bolognaʼs Liceo Musicale in 1874. The following year he began his career as first clarinet in the orchestra of the Teatro Concordia in Jesi (Ancona), and in 1877 he was made professor of clarinet at Veniceʼs Liceo Musicale “B. Marcello”, as well as being appointed first clarinet at the Teatro La Fenice. A few years later, in 1883, he moved to Rome to take up the chair in clarinet at the Liceo Musicale di Santa Cecilia, teaching there until his death in 1921.
Many of the pupils he taught in Rome went on to fill the newly created professorships at the greatest conservatories of the day. Magnani is therefore quite rightly hailed as the “father” of all Italian clarinettists, the man responsible for the unification of the Italian school that took place in the early decades of the twentieth century. His teachings also crossed the Atlantic, as several of his talented students made names for themselves in the US, as both musicians and teachers.
Widely acclaimed as a soloist, Magnani played with the famous quintet of the Court of Queen Margherita of Savoy and for several years was first clarinet in Romeʼs Teatro Augusteo orchestra. Many composers dedicated works to him, perhaps the most notable of these being Giacomo Setaccioliʼs beautiful Clarinet Sonata in E flat, Op 31 (1921), a fine example of Italian Impressionism.
Over the years, in recognition of his immense artistic achievements, he was honoured by such institutions as the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna; he was also made a Knight of the Crown of Italy and an Officier de lʼAcadémie Française. Magnani was greatly respected in France, both as a musician—especially for his performances with his friend and fellow clarinettist Cyrille Rose—and as a composer and author of the renowned Méthode complète de clarinette for the Boehm-system clarinet, which was dedicated to Rose and was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Expo of 1900. The Méthode is still a standard text in conservatories in Italy and elsewhere.
His compositions include the operas La morte di Fausto (The Death of Faust) and Odette, a Preludio e scherzo for orchestra, first performed in March 1912 at Romeʼs Teatro Augusteo, and a Gavotta for strings, which won a Società Orchestrale Romana prize. He also wrote pieces for wind band and two sextets for wind instruments. For the clarinet he wrote two methods, ten studies, two collections of duets and a series of works with piano accompaniment.
The course set by Magnani in these clarinet/piano works reflects that of the Italian clarinet repertoire as a whole, starting with the opera-inspired fantasies that were so much in vogue in the nineteenth century, and moving on to the twentieth-century appropriation of new forms and purely instrumental idioms as part of a search for complete stylistic autonomy. Falling into the category of the nineteenth-century “paraphrase”, therefore, are the Romanza e Valzer nellʼOpera Faust di Ch. Gounod, (Milan, 1880), inspired by the themes from the instrumental introduction to the Kermesse scene and the waltz and chorus that follow, and the two Divertimenti (Paris, 1903), based on the main themes of Carl Baermannʼs Konzertstücke, Op 44 and Op 49. For the much more intimate Elegia, (Florence, 1880) and Melodia romantica (Paris, 1907), Magnani takes his inspiration from bel canto lyricism, while the Mazurka-Caprice and Solo de concert (Paris, 1897/1902) are two fine examples of music designed with purely instrumental virtuosity in mind. There are echoes in both of the florid decorative style of Art Nouveau, then sweeping France, where these two pieces were frequently performed and much appreciated. Although the works on this album are stylistically “in flux”, it is fascinating to see how the levels of sophistication and inspiration brought to them by Magnani endow them all with a common compositional thread of great artistry.
I should like to end by expressing what a delight it is for me personally to have recorded these works by a composer with whom I feel a particular affinity, partly for reasons of artistic ancestry, and partly on account of a number of strange coincidences that connect the two of us, including the fact that we both made our débuts, a century apart, in the theatre in my home town.
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