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Dan Albertson
La Folia, November 2009

The Venetian players of the Ex Novo Ensemble have a history with this music and the warm church acoustic in the Vicenza region is another asset. The music itself is either preliminary or expostulatory, with the early Sartre settings showing an ease of vocal writing that would later serve Togni well. A bright-voiced Windsor seems at ease. The flute and violin sonatas are accomplished and more lyrical than one may imagine from the era. Flautist Daniele Ruggieri and violinist Carlo Lazari both find assured accompaniment from Aldo Orvieto. Piero Bonaguri and Carlo Teodoro play the rare Piece that is, I gather, untitled; its name is given brackets. Its music is dark and supremely mysterious. The Five Pieces are not all duos, but are instead flute solos alternating with movements for both instruments. Their titles stem from ancient Greece, yet the music seems either atmospheric or pastoral. The String Trio, played by Lazari and Teodoro with violist Mario Paladin, is startling in its expression at times and seems even heftier when followed by the two minuscule Preludes that ensue. Comparisons are possible for the string trio and flute sonata on Stradivarius and for the preludes on Arts; no one could better Gazzelloni in the flute sonata, but Naxos’ modern recorded sound is a solid attribute. Togni deserves greater recognition. May the revival start here!

Mark L Lehman
American Record Guide, July 2009

Italian Camillo Togni (1922–93) was an early exponent of post-Webernian serialism. Naxos’s blurb lauds his music for its lucidity, fine craftsmanship, and eloquent restraint. Though these qualities are certainly in evidence, I have reservations about Togni’s evolution. The works here include three studies on texts (not included) by Jean-Paul Sartre for soprano and piano, a flute sonata, a violin sonata, a duo for guitar and cello, a set of five pieces for flute and guitar, a string trio, and two short preludes for unaccompanied piccolo.

These are presented (as just listed) in chronological order and date from 1950 to 1980. The detailed liner notes (complete with notated tone rows) elucidate Togni’s progression from fairly relaxed dodecaphony (“not yet orthodox” and influenced by Mediterranean lyricism in the earliest two pieces) to more recondite, all-embracing serialism. I hear this as going from fully chromatic music that conveys an enjoyable sense of fantasy and even touches of melodic appeal to the most barren asperities of doctrinaire Darmstadt-style doodling. In other words: downhill all the way. Devotees of early Boulez will no doubt see it the other way around.

Performances and sonics are very good.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2009

A piano pupil of the legendary Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and composition student of Alfredo Casella, Camillo Togni became one of Italy’s most progressive composers in the second half of the 20th century. He had embraced all of the doctrines of the Second Viennese School, to which he was to add the current trend of an element of tonality. The main part of the disc covers his chamber music from the 1950s, the basic sound being typical of the style adopted by so many composers in Western Europe, long passages of sparsely scored music suddenly giving way to brief activity. Where there is thematic material it is lost on the innocent ear and replaced by music that is interesting, but would take time to enter your memory bank. That would be true of much music of that time and stylistic genesis. The opening work, Three Studies on Morts sans sepulture, for soprano and piano is an attractive introduction, while the sonatas for flute and violin both have a piano accompaniment are in a conventional three movement structure, the general feel being of conversation rather than association. Of this group, I like the gentle Five Pieces for Flute and Guitar, but found myself struggling to get to grips with the String Tio, a generally jagged score that erupts with dynamic impact. It is performed by the Italian group, Ex Novo Ensemble, founded in 1979 and dedicated to the promotion of Italian Chamber Music. I will have to take their performances and interpretation at face value, but it is highly persuasive, while the British soprano, Lorna Windsor, is the fine soloist in the ThreeStudies. Exemplary sound engineering.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group