For someone like me, coming along in the New Millennium opening an ear to the 20th century modernists, Bruno Maderna is virtually a lost and forgotten figure. His name is bandied about as one of the key members of the Darmstadt Circle along with Berio, Boulez, Ligeti, Nono, Ligeti, Stockhausen and Xenakis, but his music is difficult to locate.
This 2010 Brilliant reissue updates the 2005 DG 20/21 Echo reissue, and goes a long way toward remedying the situation. Here are three fine recordings of Maderna's orchestral works, performed by Giuseppe Sinopoli and the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1979, and originally released in 1980. "Quadrivium" for percussion and orchestra was composed in 1969, and both "Aura" and "Biogramma" for orchestra were composed in 1972. It is fascinating to listen to this resolutely abstract modern music today, knowing what was taking place in Italy (the "Hot Autumn" of the New Left) and around the world ("people all around the world are shouting End the War!", said the Temptations) at that time.
This is not music that is easily appreciated on first listening. Maderna does not have an immediately recognizable voice comparable to Ligeti, Xenakis or Nono, three 20th century greats. However, if you give it a chance, it begins to open up and reveal its secrets. Maderna's music has depths. These orchestral works will reward listening to again and again.
Between this and Berio's CORO, it seems that perhaps Brilliant will release a whole line of the discontinued DG 20/21 Echo series.