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Grant Chu Covell
La Folia, August 2010

Contrasting Rota with Malipiero is perhaps a too-cruel stretch. The majority of Malipiero’s symphonies, coming as they do decades following Rota’s, exhibit little interest in perpetuating Romantic models. Rota delivers warmth, whereas Malipiero pouts and grimaces. These two discs complete the Naxos survey of Malipiero’s symphonies. The disc with the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh reveals scant moments one would call memorable. Its notes insist that Malipiero’s string-orchestra Sixth is his most frequently played symphony. While this may be true, it’s rather surprising. The Fifth contains extended concertante parts for two pianos. Despite its subtitle, the Eighth is not Malipiero’s shortest. On this release the Fifth and the “bagpipe” Eleventh finish sooner; the Sixth is a mere four seconds longer.

Naxos’ fourth Malipiero installment offers the Seventh and two from a period between Nos. 7 and 8 when numbering was unimportant: The chronology of Malipiero’s 17 symphonies can’t be precisely determined by number. Antigenida is named for an ancient musician whose art went unremarked by his peers. The composer evidently had sympathy for this Theban flutist. The four-movement work is surprisingly dissonant and terse, as well as one of Malipiero’s more interesting caustic utterances.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2010

…Almeida and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra shine. They and Naxos are to be commended for doing an important service to an all-but-forgotten composer. Recommended…

William Hedley
MusicWeb International, January 2010

It is as well presented…with the excellent essay by John Waterhouse proving a very useful listening aid. The recording is fine, and as far as I can tell, listening to these works without a score, the performances are very creditable too…The late Antonio de Almeida earns our thanks for bringing this rather bewildering music to our attention.

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, December 2009

The performances are laudably direct and animated, and Antonio de Almeida had the whole corpus of the symphonies under his control, as he showed throughout the cycle.

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, November 2009

Symphony 5 (Concertante in Eco, 1947) is an interesting work for orchestra and two pianos in concertante style. It begins with a wave of sound in the pianos. The violas interweave with the pianos, followed by the flute and piccolo. Enter the muted trumpet and bass drum, and we’re in the world of Latin color. This is vigorous stuff, with vibrancy added by woodwind solos, angular string figures, and pounding pianos. II opens with a bitonal bassoon solo over soft piano chords. The style here is more French, with a touch of Milhaud. At times it becomes strident with the pianos growing more assertive, but the general tenor is calm. III is percussive, with the piccolo, snare drum, and bass drum having at it. (Malipiero must have heard the piano writing from Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.) The joyous finale with its bucolic solo violin presents a nice portrait of an Italian Spring.

Symphony 6 (Degli Archi, 1947) is in the tradition of string orchestra works that English composers loved to write. I suspect Malipiero was in a good mood and enjoyed playing with string sonorities. I is lively, with a subtle Italian folk melody. II is beautifully calm, contemplative, yet somehow bold—a little like the Barber Adagio but with less harmonic bite. III breaks the mood with jagged lines that might look like a sawtooth wave on an oscilloscope and a fascinating part near the end where the pizzicato upper strings dance over clomping bass. The finale is like a small rhapsody, with five major tempo changes in 9 minutes and an attractive violin solo.

Malipiero’s style had changed drastically by his Eighth Symphony (1964). I’m not sure the Eighth is a serial work, but it sounds like one. The varying canonic lines emphasize leaps of a seventh and have that serial, never-resolve-anything feel. The piece is interesting for a while and quite canonic in nature. I sounds like Italian Berg—melodic and brooding but not depressing. It is built mainly on counterpoint, a little like Farten Valen in that way, but more linear in effect. A few sections sound like Ives. Strings dominate for a while, then woodwinds, creating a nice tapestry of sound and colors. II maintains the canonic form, this time more lively and sprightly. By now the horns are involved, and later as the music picks up steam a muted trumpet chimes in. Again, I hear some Ives, this time in music that sounds like a parade with its addition of brass and piano. The finale is a long movement with many tempo changes. Much of the styling of I and II is heard here, but with more variety and ideas. Eventually, though, it all gets tedious and runs out of steam.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2009

Hardly a household name in today’s musical circles, Gian Fancesco Malipiero was Italy’s leading symphonist of the 20th century, his eleven works with that title composed in the second half of a long working life. Born in Venice in 1883, he had spent his young years touring extensively with his father, a pianist and conductor, and it was not until the age of sixteen he began formal music education. In the period that followed he undertook the valuable task of transcribing long-forgotten Italian music of Monteverdi and Frescobaldi, though it was the premiere of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps that proved a watershed, when at the age of 30 he publicly rejected everything written thus far. More factually he revised many early scores, though he was in his late forties before embarking on his numbered symphonies. The present disc shows the massive upheaval that took place in his thought process during the 1960’s, acerbity and atonality being the characteristics of the Eighth and Eleventh symphonies. The Fifth and Sixth both date from 1947, the latter work, scored only for strings, is arguably the most easily likeable of the entire cycle. The Fifth is really a concerto for two pianos, the keyboards propelling the work along with music both attractive and expertly scored. The Eighth and Eleventh are not readily likeable, their breed of atonality creating sounds that at times are disconcerting in their dissonance. Stravinsky in his later years may give a guide on content, the puzzle being the ‘Symphonia brevis’  title for one of his most extended works from this period. The Moscow Symphony would be seeing the music for the first time, and the upper strings sound a little thin in technically demanding moments. In Antonio de Almeida the sores had a most compelling advocate. Reliable sound engineering.

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