I'm officially leaving anything "familiar" (previously heard, opened, experienced) behind for the time being; I'm having too much fun (take it where I can get it in this world!!) going thru brand new discs
circa 2013! Why 2013?? Because those piles are the easiest to reach ;) So, here we have a disc from the small and consistently impressive Bridge label (anyone up on their George Crumb recording series? It's a fantastic project) focusing on music for guitar quartet, by contemporary Italian composers in particular. (hence the ensemble name "Guitalian", as they focus on contemporary Italian music...otherwise it would sound twice as corny) I really like the sound possibilities created by such an ensemble. The L.A. Guitar Quartet is one of my favorite such groups, and I've been trying to find my LAGQ discs (mostly on Delos) to post for a while now. So the only composers that I am familiar with on this recording are Bruno Maderna and the cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima (bought his album "Aquilarco" in the 1990's after hearing excerpts on a NY radio show. It's chamber music for cello, electric guitar, electric bass, keyboards, and flute). Let's give a listen..
I'm going to type out the portion of the booklet notes that focuses on the compositions solely:
Carmelo Nicotra's (b 1958) "Absinthium" is a visionary and oneiric composition featuring several abrupt changes in mood. The work was inspired by the wormwood plant, whose essence is the main ingredient of absinthe, the hallucinogen used frequently by 19th century artists. After a slow and dreamlike introduction we come to an initial Allegro with its remarkable cadenced character. The subsequent Moderato cantabile connects to the final section, which is composed of elements drawn from the previous Allegro, achieving an explosive farewell.
Mauro Schiavone's (b 1975) "Quartetto no. 5" is based on simple and minimalist materials, though it does not give up the pleasure of its search for harmonic development. This is Schiavone's fifth quartet in a series dedicated to works for various instruments, and attempts to conjure a fantastic 24-string guitar. The composition has a classical tripartite form, with the first and the third section featuring constant and softly "electric" rhythms, and overlapping harmonic layers. In contrast, the central section of the piece is, for the most part, lyrical, and undergoes a gradual transformation back to the atmosphere of the opening section.
Cultivated and uncultivated quotations create a kind of "pastiche" in Nicola Jappelli's (b 1975) "Katastroph Polka". The work is a tragicomic melting pot, which lets the listener taste seemingly conflicting ingredients: Mozart, popular songs of Lombardy, a Soviet hymn, and a Brazilian choir. This piece "speaks" an expressionist and bizarre language which, despite some romantic license, results in a gloomy and bitter conclusion. The nostalgic and cultural apocalypse is finally achieved.
Giovanni Sollima's (1962) "Leonardo's Bestiary" (listening now, very nice indeed!) is a suite in five pieces.
It was inspired by the fictitious animals which the gifted Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci described in his 'Bestiary'. Sollima knows the guitar and its sonic potential well, and skillfully blends different styles of composition, ranging from classical to rock and minimalism.
A decadent and nostalgic piece, "Valtzer per Quattro" by Paolo Arca (b 1953), evokes the dreamy atmosphere of the past, thanks to a seamless sequence of variegated parts. The rarefied introduction is followed by a slow cantabile section and a brighter episode in Viennese style. This gradually fades away and returns to the character of the opening.
"Serenata per un satellite" by Bruno Maderna (1920-1973) was composed and performed in 1969, when the European satellite ESRO l (Boreas) was launched. The piece is structured aleatorically, for a free group of instruments. It was written on a single large sheet of paper, in which staves criss-cross in a bizarre pattern, though meticulous indications for its performance are provided. It is a work designed to stir the imagination of its performers, and results in a vastly different experience each time it is played.
Guitalian Quartet: Guido Fichtner, Claudio Marcotulli, Maurizio Norrito, Stefano Palamidessi
1) Carmelo Nicotra - "Absinthium" (8:06)
2) Mauro Schiavone - "Quartetto no. 5" (7:40)
3) Nicola Jappelli - "Katastroph Polka" (5:25)
Giovanni Sollima - "Bestiario di Leonardo" (13:23)
4) Lumerpa (2:52)
5) Alep (2:48)
6) Ceraste e Tarata (2:10)
7) Macli (2:48)
8) Anphesibene (2:45)
9) Paolo Arca - "Valzer per quattro" (5:44)
10) Bruno Maderna - "Serenata per un satellite" (11:21)