Most composers progress in terms of a style with what they can feel.
In the 18th century it was much less of a problem, and even the general
progression of the 19th century's romanticism appeared to divide between
those who used it conveniently and the progressives who tussled with it
and gave it a kick forwards. Composers born late enough in the 1800s to
be active into our century must have felt increasing pressure towards the
emancipation of dissonance.
Alfredo Casella was one such - born in 1883 and died in 1947. That slice
of time felt a range of severe tremors in music. Not unnaturally, Casella
explored and his output falls into three categories: romanticism, experimental,
and a blend that admitted his favoured ingredients in clear-cut forms. The
two works here are several years into the final phase with a resultant confidence
of manner. (click here for music - Finale to Trio)
neoclassicism can tempt a composer to an impersonal chatter of notes, Casella
had more than that and used it intensely, especially in the slow movements,
with a considerable depth of expression. Particularly noticeable is the
Concerto's affecting middle movement that breathes noble melancholy. (click here for music) The only real flaw is a
B movie sequence on a pedal point in the first movement that suggests a
posse at full gallop. But unfolding of the following Andante cantabile
is of very different quality.
In the Niagaran torrent that represents serious music in this century,
one Italian composer writing several intense works some sixty years ago
will not count for much. Even so, he was a force in Italian music in the
20s and 30s and has left a small legacy that should not be overlooked.
Copyright © Basil Ramsey,
September 22nd 1999
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