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Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, September 2012

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s two piano concertos, in G minor…and F…are solid half-hour pieces. They have to be about the most cheerful pieces by anyone written in those ten years! Sound and playing are excellent… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online



Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, September 2012

Italian pianist plays the film composer’s two concertos

This enterprising disc includes a first performance and recording of CastelnuovoTedesco’s Four Dances from Love’s Labour’s Lost given, like the Second Piano Concerto, in Marangoni’s own edition; the result of intensive needle-in-a-haystack research. And, played by the hyperactive pianist and orchestra with such scintillating abandon, the composer’s charm and brio could, just possibly, bring a smile to even the most crusty and conservative listener.

Certainly the First Concerto’s sunny optimism, with its bursts of tarantella rhythm and continuous pianistic high jinks, must be a delectable treat for pianists anxious to take time off from more serious musical fare. The finale (Vivo e festoso) may remain blissfully unaware that brevity can be the soul of wit but, given with such relish, its drive and appeal are hard to resist. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



NET (netnebraska.org), September 2012

Marangoni and Malmo luxuriate in…amber-like romanticism while never losing sight of its more keen edges and angles. The first concerto in G Major…is a piece full of verve, with Marangoni and Malmo reveling in its dashing muscularity. We have Marnagoni to thank for discovering the unpublished Four Dances for Love’s Labour’s Lost. They’re full of various shades of light, from misty and radiant to glinting and full-on sunny. © 2012 NET (netnebraska.org) Read complete review



Gary Higginson
MusicWeb International, July 2012

While the major works here are the two piano concertos the charming Four Dances from Love’s Labour’s Lost immediately took my fancy. This recording also constitutes their first performance. Conductor Alessandro Marangoni who has also written briefly about this in the booklet notes has resuscitated the score. There are four movements, which certainly make no attempt to be quasi-Elizabethan, you may be glad to hear. It’s something which English composers often did, normally sending us off into the embarrassed corner. We do have a Sarabande and a Gavotte for each of the King of Navarre and the Princess of France. There is also a Spanish Dance for the comical Don Adriano: witty music…Finally there’s a jaunty Russian Dance for the Masque, which is the comical climax to the play in Act V. It’s wonderful that this colourful score has been dug up. I for one, especially enjoyed it.

I would like to describe the Piano Concerto No. 1 as gay but I have a feeling that although it describes perfectly this happy work I should use the word jaunty. It is in three movements and both of the outer ones are full of bravura, excitable rhythms and colourful orchestration. The third is something approaching a tarantella at times. The nicely detailed booklet notes by Graham Woods talk of “good-humoured vigour” which is much better than my words but there are also lyrical tendencies. There’s a lovely cello solo in the first movement and in the central section of the third. The movement that really caught my fancy was the middle Andantino alla Romanza. The opening tune is almost folk-like, a sort of Mediterranean version of a Rachmaninov romantic melody found in his last two concertos. Whereas the Russian tends towards dark passion Castelnuovo-Tedesco is more song-like, simple and sunlit. I was delighted to make the acquaintance of this work although for 1927 it must have seemed a little anachronistic. The performance is all you might want and the recording excellent and immediate.

…the Swedish orchestra play as if they have been familiar with this music for years. They are aided by Marangoni’s scholarship to say nothing of the background work and enthusiasm of Andrew Mogrelia. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



John Terauds
Musical Toronto, July 2012

Pure sunshine and boundless energy come to mind in listening to two neglected piano concertos by Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968).

Fellow countryman Alessando Marangoni…attacks these three-movement showpieces with the relish of a child who has just landed in the world’s finest sandbox with a shiny new shovel and bucket.

The two three-movement concerti, the first one in G, written in 1927, and the second in F Major, from 10 years later, are meant to be showpieces redolent in cascading chords, arpeggios and runs.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco is best remembered for his two guitar concertos, but these two piano works have a lot to recommend them as open-hearted escapades, guaranteed to entertain while also having just enough substance to keep more analytical listeners interested.

Marangoni tosses off these pieces with deceptive ease. His technique is flawless, his expression and phrasing exuberant and nuanced. These are true showpieces, which he delivers with a wink and a smile.

Included on the disc are Four Dances from Love’s Labour’s Lost…Marangoni, who has dedicated much of his free time to exhuming dusty manuscripts of his Italian patrimony, has prepared a glowing arrangement of these dances, integrating the piano nicely into the orchestration for this world-premiere recording.

Conductor Andrew Mogrelia and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra are suitably brilliant accompanists and do beautiful, crisp work in the dances, giving them the same élan as the rest of the music on the CD. © 2012 Musical Toronto Read complete review




James Manheim
Allmusic.com, July 2012

…there’s a cinematic quality to the music…The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 92, is heftier and more intricately structured than the early Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 46, which consists largely of strings of attractive melodies. Nobody would claim either work as profound, but they are airy and evocative pieces that would succeed as light interludes in a program of major Romantic concertos. Neither piece is frequently performed, but both are more common than the Four Dances from Love’s Labor’s Lost, composed in 1953, which were thought to have been lost in the Florence floods of 1966 but have surfaced in a copy owned by the composer’s family…the performances by pianist Alessandro Marangoni are sprightly and enthusiastic. Frothy but for many listeners probably irresistible. © 2012 Allmusic.com Read complete review



Ivan Moody
International Record Review, July 2012

The first Concerto, in G major…is resoundingly within the Italian romantic tradition: until the soloist’s entry you are pretty well convinced that you are hearing the overture to an opera you can’t quite recall. That entry not only summons up the ghosts of Tchaikovsky and Liszt but foreshadows the American years of Castelnuovo-Tedesco the film composer and master of emotional drama. The bouncing of effervescence of the first movement is restored in spades in the third, ‘Vivo e festoso’, which also contains some of the most imaginative scoring of the work.

Concerto No. 2 is in many respects quite a different animal. What is clearly apparent is a new seriousness of tone, sparkling though much of the music contained in the outer movement is. The orchestration is generally darker-hued, and the writing for soloist is more frequently reflective. The middle movement is again a ‘Romanza’, but a much more successful one, mysterious and haunting.

Both the Concerto No. 2 and the Four Dances were prepared for performance (the very first, in the case of the later) by pianist Alessandro Marangoni…Marangoni’s work has been more than worthwhile: the Dances also contain much memorable material, though I find the first, the gorgeously orchestrated ‘Sarabande (for the King of Navarre)’, and the final pastiche, ‘Russian Dance (Masque)’, to be the most memorable. The Malmö players are also clearly inspired by these unjustly neglected works: the performances fizz and sparkle under the direction of Andrew Mogrelia, and Marangoni’s dedication to the cause is just as apparent in his vivid playing as in his musicological endeavours. Excellent. © 2012 International Record Review



Music & Vision, July 2012

‘…performances are excellent…’

Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco is primarily known for a 1940s recording by the unforgettable Andrés Segovia of the Guitar Concerto with small string orchestra. The textual writing is mainly intimate and light-hearted in style and timbre. Piano Concertos 1 in G minor and 2 in F major spanning 1927 to 1937 respectively possess a delightful breezy charm and timbre, and on this Naxos recording Alessandro Marangoni joins the Malmö Symphony and Andrew Mogrelia.

This is just the CD to start the day and brush away cobwebs from the previous night. Needless to say, performances are excellent, and the recording matches the artistry. © 2012 Music & Vision



Infodad.com, June 2012

…the Four Dances from “Love’s Labour’s Lost”…were never published and apparently never performed during the composer’s life or afterwards. So the reading by Andrew Mogrelia and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra appears to be a double première—first performance and first recording—and a welcome one. The dances are essentially character pieces, focusing on several of the roles in this complex and difficult war-between-the-sexes play. The other two pieces, a Spanish and a Russian dance, are clever exaggerations with a satirical bent, fitting the atmosphere of the play very well indeed. The more-extended works on this Naxos CD, the piano concertos, are also very much worth hearing. The first, in G minor, tempers virtuosity with lyricism and, despite some introspection suitable to its minor key (which inevitably recalls Mozart’s 25th and 40th symphonies), is by and large expressively upbeat, and in the finale even joyous. The second concerto—re-created by Alessandro Marangoni for this performance…is darker, with a feeling appropriate to the growing storm over Europe even though it is by no means occasional music. Marangoni is a strong, even ardent advocate for these concertos, playing not only with considerable virtuosity but also with sensitive understanding that brings out the differing flavors and emotional underpinnings of the two works. © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, May 2012

The three-movement first concerto is a youthful romantic work dating from 1927. It’s full of wonderful melodies right from the start of the opening allegro [track-1], which begins with a cheery chuckling theme (CC) [00:35]. This is the subject for a colorful dialogue between soloist and tutti that includes a rhapsodic central episode [05:26] with winsome passages for cello and winds. A jolly chortling bassoon [07:32] introduces the lighter-than-air final moments having cadenza-like asides for the soloist. The movement then ends uneventfully with a whimsical recap of CC.

The andantino alla romanza that’s next [track-2] is based on a theme that may bring to mind the one opening Joaquin Rodrigo’s (1901-1999) Fantasia para un gentilhombre (1954) of twenty-two years later. It’s a lovely affecting aria for the orchestra beautifully embroidered by the soloist, and has a couple of dramatic timpani-accented passages.

A closing trill and upward run on the piano announce the final movement marked vivo e festoso [track-3]. This opens with an extended frenzied tarantella-like idea (FT) [00:20] that’s cleverly developed, giving the soloist a chance to show off his technical prowess. The music then subsides into a pensive march-like episode that gradually increases in tempo as well as intensity, finally ending in a short cadenza. The orchestra returns recalling FT, and the work concludes in a state of ecstatic jubilation.

The second concerto of ten years later (1936-37) is structurally more refined with a greater sense of confidence and control than its predecessor. Written while Italy was under Fascist rule, which was one of the worst periods for the composer, it’s not surprising to find somber meditative moments in an otherwise optimistic work.

Again in three movements, the opening vivace e brillante [track-4] begins as the orchestra with some campanological embellishments bursts forth like the sun from behind a cloud. The piano enters in an equally radiant state and proceeds to mull over the delightful thematic material that’s just been presented. An engaging developmental conversation between soloist and tutti with intervals of introspection ensues. The movement ends with some flashy keyboard pyrotechnics and an excited orchestra, all reminiscent of Rachmaninov (1873-1943).

The romanza, tranquillo e meditative which follows [track-5] is one of the composer’s most comely creations, and the concerto’s emotional core. Passages of lyric delicacy and introspection make up this masterfully crafted exchange between piano and orchestra.

Like the first concerto, a closing trill on the piano marks the outset of the final vivo e impetuoso [track-6], which begins with a somewhat demonic dance-like idea (DD). This is treated in rondo fashion, reappearing in a variety of forms interspersed with a couple of introspective passages [03:32 and 06:04]. The orchestra and soloist then recall DD in a glorious coda, ending the concerto triumphantly.

The composer had a great love for Shakespeare (1564-1616), and wrote a number of works inspired by his plays. These include eleven overtures (1930-53)…and the Four Dances from Love’s Labour’s Lost (mid-1590s) written in 1953, which are next.

Never published, they’re presented here for the first time thanks to our pianist Alessandro Marangoni, who made a performing version from the original manuscript. Without getting into the rather involved plot details surrounding each (see the album notes), the series begins with brilliantly scored, romanticized versions of two 16th century dances. The lissome opening “Sarabande” finds Mario at his most graceful. While there’s a jocose air about the following “Gavotte,” which is a melodic amalgam of Rossini’s (1792-1868) “Buona sera, mio signore” in Act II of The Barber of Seville (1816), and Verdi’s (1813-1901) “Dance of the Priestesses” from Act I of Aida (1871).

Two colorful ethnically inspired numbers close out the work. The first is a “Spanish Dance” with castanets and Iberian rhythms that begins somewhat like the “Miller’s Dance” in Manuel de Falla’s (1876-1946) The Three-cornered Hat (1915). Apparently it’s meant to be a portrait of the braggadocio Don Armado in Shakespeare’s comedy.

Moving eastwards, we get a “Russian Dance” that quite honestly sounds more Oriental than Slavic. To wit, it starts off like the “Tea (Chinese) Dance” in Act II of Tchaikovsky’s (1840-1893) The Nutcracker (1884), and has moments reminiscent of Reinhold Glière’s (1875-1956) The Red Poppy (1927) with some arresting solo brass passages and percussive effects. But who cares as it ends this symphonic rarity with an appealing cinematic touch, and a final bass-drum-reinforced sforzando that’ll knock you across the room!

Judging from his handling of these concertos, young Italian pianist Alessandro Marangoni is obviously a first-class virtuoso. But more importantly he has a lightness of touch and affinity for these scores, which along with some equally sensitive support from British conductor Andrew Mogrelia and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra (MSO), bring this delicate music to life. The same can be said for the dances, which Mogrelia and company perform with great relish.

The Concert Hall of the MSO in Malmö, Sweden was the venue for these recordings, which project an ideally proportioned soundstage in a suitably reverberant acoustic. While clarity reigns across the entire frequency spectrum, the high end never becomes oppresive. The piano is beautifully captured with well rounded tone perfectly complementing Signore Marangoni’s delicate touch, and for the most part remains well balanced against the orchestra. The instrumental timbre is very musical with shimmering highs and profound bass which is exceptionally clean, even in the presence of that bass drum (see above).

…this release now goes to the top of the list from both the performance and sound standpoints. What’s more, you also get a world premiere, and all at the low Naxos bill of fare! © 2012 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



WQXR (New York), May 2012

In an interview of Naxos’s Web site, pianist Alessandro Marangoni described [Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s] style: “There’s a fascinating connection between his elusive Italian way—the singing, the brightness, the sunniness—and the American…way of composing,” he said. “Castelnuovo-Tedesco lived a lot in the States, hence the double influence. The music is often very spectacular, very brilliant—especially his way of writing for orchestra.” © 2012 WQXR (New York) Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2012

Two of the most immediately attractive piano concertos from the 20th century. Sadly neither finds an appearance in concert programmes, the music of the Italian-born composer, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, only recently emerging from a period of obscurity. Indeed when the soloist, Alessandro Marangoni, enquired as to the whereabouts of the Second, it appeared the parts were lost. He was therefore indebted to the composer’s niece in supplying a manuscript of the score from which he prepared a performing edition of the piano part, only to discover a set of orchestral parts existed in Philadelphia’s Fleisher Collection. Ten years separated their composition, the first happy and rather lighthearted; the Second a rather darker score, that probably reflected the political scene in Italy during the latter years of the 1930’s. Both are superbly written for the keyboard—the composer was a highly gifted pianist—though it is the highly coloured orchestral writing that sets them apart for other concertos of the time. Though he had yet to arrive in the United States, where he was to become a film composer of distinction, they give the feeling that both could have been influenced by Hollywood, their thematic material having those big, sweeping, and romantic gestures. Marangoni easily surmounts the exacting demands, his clarity, in the pages that must be black with notes, being so precise. He is doubly fortunate in having the exceptionally fine Malmö Orchestra to complete the picture under the baton of Andrew Mogrelia. As an added bonus we have the first performance of four dances composed in the hope they would be used in productions of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. The composer had a fascination with the dramatist, Naxos already having recorded his eleven overtures for Shakespearean plays. The dances are by turn charming and full of naughty pastiche. High impact sound and thoroughly recommended. © 2012 David’s Review Corner






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