David's Review Corner
, February 2020
Remaining on the periphery of today’s internationally recognised composers, Gian Francesco Malipiero was, in his lifetime, regarded as Italy’s leading symphonist.
Born in Venice in 1882, he was already sixteen before he began formal musical education, and almost a further thirty years before he embarked on his first numbered symphony. By this time he had rejected everything he had composed before the age of thirty, and had gone down the road pointed out by the music of Stravinsky. The Sixth Symphony dates from 1947, and in its very opening you hear the influences of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and of the Baroque form of the Concerto grosso with solos set against the orchestral backdrop. But whatever its causations, it had totally returned to tonality, and in so doing had rejected the Second Viennese School. Scored entirely for strings and quite short, it has considerable charm and appeal, not least in the proactive scherzo, and, as a whole, was the most readily likeable of his eleven published symphonies. The earliest work on the disc, Ritrovari (Rediscoveries), dates from 1926, and at a time when he was living at the house of the writer and flamboyant playboy, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and he recreates a scenario created for him by his host. It was scored for the unlikely combination of a wind quintet, four violas, cello and double bass. A strange but likeable work in five brief pictures. It seems that he enjoyed the challenge posed by such an unlikely chamber group. The remaining works on the disc, are receiving their premiere recording, and were completed in the period 1959/60. The symphony has been recorded previously on Marco Polo, but there the Moscow Symphony strings were sorely tested. Here we have an orchestra that are outstanding champions of the composer and convincingly conducted by the British/Italian, Damian Iorio; the Swiss recording is excellent, and I hope a Malipiero symphony cycle follows. © 2020 David’s Review Corner