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Global Fascinations and Sophistications

Casella Piano Music


Turin-born Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) is probably better known to 78rpm collectors through his solo piano contributions to Bloch's Piano Quintet and Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. Something of a pedagogue, forming societies to promote national interest and new explorations in music, his compositions, along with contemporaries Malipiero, Petrassi and Pizzetti are refinding their niche after an absence of over 50 years.

Casella's crusading efforts paved the way for such musicians as Vittorio Gui and Riccardo Zandonai, spreading his gospels into other countries at the expense of neglect of his own output. The piano works are especially rewarding, as they represent various levels of development away from his earlier experimental period that ended in 1913.

Casella Piano Music. Copyright (c) 1998 HNH International Ltd.

9 Pieces Op 24 (1914) utilizes richly harmonised, dense chordal structures to highlight the moods of personalities who thronged his travels, like composers Stravinsky and Schmitt in Paris, Bartók [listen - track 4, 0:15 - 1.15], and pianist Yvonne Lumley, who became his second wife. Their colourings literally grab the attention; but imagine the contrasting, simplistic atmosphere of the 11 Children's Pieces Op 35 (1920), where straightforward right hand melodies interplay with alternate fourths in the left hand, short miniatures akin to the direct style of their dedicatee, Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

2 Ricercari on the name B-A-C-H Op 52 pays homage to the master's influence on other composers. Their clarity of layout must have appealed to Walter Gieseking, while the late 6 Studies Op 70 (1942-44), written when Casella had become ill, extend the technical possibilities of Chopin and Ravel. Luca Ballerini is a Mario Tipo pupil - an assured virtuoso who gives authentic realization to this fascinating cross-section by a neglected genius.

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Copyright © 23 August 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK







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