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George Dorris
Ballet Review, April 2011

Although he never wrote a major hit like his near contemporary Respighi, Malipiero had a greater influence on Italian music as a prolific modernist composer who edited Monteverdi and Vivaldi, among others, as well as teaching several generations of students. Although the lively “fragments” from his 192 comic opera on Goldoni plays show the influence of early Stravinsky, the later ballet Stradivario from 1947–48 is a darker, more original work with witty touches. It’s about a collector who steals a Stradivarius violin from a poor musician, but his instruments come to life at night and finally crush him.

To complete this welcome survey of unduly neglected works, Benda and his Swiss orchestra play Malipiero’s arrangements of Cimarosa and Gabrieli pieces, full of charm rather than the irony of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. I should note that Cimarosiana shares only a title with Massine’s ballet of the same name.



Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, March 2011

The Naxos Italian Classics series has produced some fine discs. These include top-notch versions of Alfredo Casella’s First and Second symphonies with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma under Francesco La Vecchia. That revival of interest will surely extend to the works of Malipiero, a contemporary of Casella’s and also a founder member of the Corporazione delle Nuove Musiche. The disc under review is not new—it was issued on the now defunct Marco Polo label in the late-1990s—and the music is hardly core repertoire. All the more surprising, as the pieces recorded here are really rather good. Not only that, the playing of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana is very idiomatic, too.

The three fragments from Malipiero’s opera Tre commedie goldoniane have an open-faced, genial air; La bottega da caffè is a perky little number, underpinned by some delightful, burbling rhythms, the out-of-sorts Sior Todero characterised by low, rather comical brass. As vignettes go, these are lightly drawn, and all credit to conductor Christian Benda for bringing out the many subtleties of colour and rhythm. The latter is a key element here, the molto perpetuo of La baruffe chiozzotte discreetly done. It’s an odd blend of chamber-like scoring and gaudy effects—the bells for instance— but it hangs together well and never outstays its welcome. Most entertaining.

The short, post-war ballet Stradivario, centred on a stolen Strad that comes to life and dances with a variety of other instruments, is surprisingly light on its feet. Violinist Tamas Major is a little thin-sounding as the protagonist, but it’s the boisterous bass drum—well caught—that threatens to steal the show. There’s plenty of dynamic range here; the orchestra is convincingly balanced, woodwind solos rise naturally from the mix and the brass are thrilling in their brisk, repeated figures. There’s an abiding sense of fun in this music, epitomised by the smile-inducing march for flutes and drums. A real tonic, this.

Malipiero’s interest in Italian composers of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries dates back to his youth, where he spent hours copying the music of Monteverdi and other early masters. This fascination, shared by his compatriots Casella and Respighi, is most evident in La Cimarosiana, inspired by the music of Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801).But it’s not just a fastidious, dry little exercise in retro-writing; for instance, sandwiched between the elegant Andante grazioso and Non troppo mosso is an uncouth, streetwise Allegro moderato that’s both bizarre and entirely in keeping with Malipero’s well-developed sense of mischief and whimsy. Make no mistake though, the period features are skilfully done and the music is very well played; the limpid Larghetto is especially attractive.

As a Venetian himself, Malipiero would have had a special affection for the music of Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/57-1612), whose distinctive style is joyfully conveyed in the bracing Gabrieliana. The up-front OSI brass are very bright indeed—brazen, even—which seems entirely appropriate in this context. That said, it’s all a tad fatiguing at times. Not as relaxed and congenial as the other items, perhaps, but it does reveal a more studied, serious aspect of the composer’s musical persona.

This is a most rewarding reissue, and a tantalising glimpse into Malipiero’s endearing sound-world...if this collection piques your interest don’t hesitate to give them a try.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2011

Always one of the most highly desirable Malipiero recordings, this 1997 recording makes a most welcome return to the catalogue. A musically complex person who has often been quoted as having destroyed all of his compositions following a life-changing experience at the age of 30 when he attended the premiere of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. In truth he carefully preserved them and revisited many later in life. He seems to have been ambivalent as to where his sentiments resided. Besotted by Italian music that had gone before, yet at the same time espousing the ideals of progressing from the stagnation in Italian orchestral music that had greeted his younger years. So we have two works: La Cimarosiana using works of Cimarosa for a ballet commissioned by the dancer, Massine, and music by Gabrielli for Gabrieliana written when Malipiero was eighty-eight. From mid-way between the two came the ballet, Stradivario, in which instruments for sale come to life at night and dance around the dealer’s studio. Modern and original music of charm that comes in direct lineage from his opera trilogy, Tre commedie goldoniane, based on three Carlo Goldoni’s comedies. So if you have been introduced to Malipiero via his symphonies, this disc of lightweight delights is going to be a culture shock. It is performed by the orchestra from the Italian-speaking sector of Switzerland. An ensemble of modest size, it offers playing of estimable quality under the direction of the hugely experienced Christian Benda. The Radiotelevisione svizzera recording is of unforced and pleasing clarity, and has previously been available on Marco Polo.






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5:20:01 PM, 28 July 2014
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