Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller


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On Chailly's CD we find pieces like Variazioni per pianoforte ed orchestra, which is one of the world première recordings, and Variazione per oboe ed orchestra. The variations for piano and orchestra, on a romance from Morlacci's opera Tebaldo e Isolina, were destined for the court at Parma. The young Verdi had asked permission in 1837 to perform this piece at a concert held for the Duchess's birthday but he never received an answer. The piece stands, as it is, without a full score or orchestral parts, but the piano part is reminiscent of Paganini, who greatly influenced Verdi while the former was in Parma between 1834 and 1836. It is no wonder that Verdi has been called 'the Paganini of the piano'. Few people recall that the piano was Verdi's first love and that he took the entrance exam in 1832 at the Milano conservatory to study piano, failed because of a defective hand position, and was advised to study composition instead. On the CD a reconstruction of the missing orchestral part has been added.

The Sinfonia in C, also a world première recording, was composed for the Busseto Accademia dei Filarmonici in 1838, the same year that Verdi's second child was born. Two of the three themes were later used again, in the 1840 overture to Un Giorno di Regno.

The simple fugal treatment of the first theme shows it to be a piece that was obviously composed in haste. Verdi had spent three years studying fugue and canon!

Verdi Discoveries. © 2004 Decca
Verdi Discoveries. © 2004 Decca

Of interest to fans of Verdi's operas is another small piece, not a world première, but nonetheless a rarity: the original 1857 Preludio from Simon Boccanegra. Simon Boccanegra is among Verdi's finest and most moving operas, about which Claudio Abbado said: 'Listening to it we find an abundance of musical and psychological material uncommonly well developed.'

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Copyright © 12 May 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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