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Malipiero: Symphonies Nos. 9 and 10 (Symphonies Vol. 5) CD


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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sinfonia dello zodiaco (1951) - Moscow Symphony Orchestra
  2. Symphony No. 9 dell'ahimè (1966) - Moscow Symphony Orchestra
  3. Symphony No. 10 Atropo (1967) - Moscow Symphony Orchestra

Product Description

This is the final disc in the series of Gian Francesco Malipiero's published symphonies, originally issued on Marco Polo. One of the most significant threads in Malipiero's huge and many-sided output, they strengthen his claim to be regarded as the most important and original Italian composer of his generation. Sinfonia dello zodiaco vividly depicts the ever-changing moods of the four seasons in twelve movements that are analogous to the signs of the zodiac. The perky capriciousness of his brief Symphony No. 9 is interrupted by an unforgettable but enigmatic outburst by trumpets and percussion marked Ahimè' (Alas!) in the score. Symphony No. 10, his musical tribute to an admired colleague, Hermann Scherchen, is named after the ancient Greek goddess who cuts short the thread of life.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x96965b80) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
HASH(0x9674ad10) out of 5 stars good to have them back 24 Feb. 2012
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Thanks Naxos for reissuing the series of Malipiero symphonies conducted by Antonio de Almeida, first released on its full-price sister (or should it be mother) company Marco Polo, but it must be noted that the original CD sells at the time of writing for about as cheap as this one; see MALIPIERO: Symphonies Nos. 9 and 10 / Sinfonia dello Zodiaco.

One of the most remarkable features of Malipiero's symphonies is their freedom from the dictates of any school. Some of them are bitingly dissonant (but always within the broad frame of tonality), at the service of great dramatic impact; some are surprisingly lyrical and pastoral. Malipiero's construction processes are often whimsical, as if one idea led to the other with no preconceived plan. But what might have been viewed as a flaw according to the canons of classical construction appears to me as one of his Symphonies' most endearing features: in a very baroque way, they are constantly surprising and never quite go where you expect them to.

Sinfonia dello Zodiaco, one of Malipiero's six unnumbered Symphonies, was composed in 1951, immediately after the compact and dramatic Sinfonia in un tempo. By contrast, this one is remarkable not so much for its length (over 40 minutes) as for its overall gentle, pastoral and lyrical mood, which doesn't preclude moments of angular dissonance. It is Malipiero's own "Four Seasons". As in Vivaldi's magnum opus, it is constructed of four parts (the Seasons), each divided in three movements. The truth is, it is not nearly as graphically evocative as Vivaldi's Seasons, but still it is filled with surprising and refined sonic invention. With its dialogue of oboe and English horn, the beginning of Spring is fittingly pastoral, but Malipiero doesn't remain just in one mood and the music soon acquires more sombre and dramatic overtones. The second movement is turbulent and often dissonant - maybe Malipiero's view of a storm, which you'd expect more in summer - and the finale returns to the woodwind-dominated pastoral mood of the beginning.

The two outer movements of "Summer" are neo-classically muscular and rhythmically square - the triumphant march of Summer perhaps, but it is also a compositional trait found in other Malipiero symphonies. At 1:25 in the first movement there is a moment of delicate and refined string filigree reminiscent of the composer's String Quartets, and later at 3:48 one where the pastoral flute and English horn duet briefly returns. If my ear doesn't deceive me the second movement starts with a mysterious and haunting mute trumpet & bassoon duet, later joined by flute and English horn, over a harp ostinato and violin tremolos, which can be construed as the evocation of a sultry day with crickets. Other felicitous moments include the second movement of "Autumn", which could as well have been an evocation of spring, opening as it does with a delightful duet of flutes, with the strings soon joining in a more muscular march, alternating with perky and whimsical woodwinds and later a bassoon full of bonhomie. The middle movement of Winter is introduced by a poetic and dreamy flute soon joined by a clarinet in counterpoint, developing into bitter-sweet woodwind filigree. But it is the beginning of Winter that is the most inventive, with its eerie scales played by four muted solo violins, over which a brooding bassoon melody unfolds: Malipiero's direct homage to Vivaldi's Four Seasons I guess, with its similar effects. It is refined, surprising, hauntingly beautiful.

The compact 9th Symphony is a late work (1966) and one of Malipiero's most daring compositions. Its first movement has sardonic, demented marches nearing cacophony (and it not just the fact that the Moscow strings seem unable to play on the same pitch together, a feature noted in many instalments of this cycle). The proceedings are underpinned by a piano playing mostly in its bass registers, adding muscle and a biting edge. The second movement is more terse and brooding, with fine woodwind interplay, and rises around 3:30 to an impressive and threatening climax. Malipiero has solved the problem of writing slow movements that are intensely lyrical without being mawkishly sentimental. More angular marches of neo-classical vigor are featured in the finale, which ends with a powerful and threatening quasi-chorale introduced by a crashing short brass call over drum tatoo (2:32) and another plangent woodwind theme - giving the Symphony its subtitle, "dell'ahimè" (of the alas), as the word AHIMÈ is cryptically written twice over at that point in the score, in huge bold capital letters. The Symphony is quite a stupendous achievement, and shows no trace of a dwindling of the composer's inspiration.

The 10th Symphony "Atropo" (on of the three Fates, the one responsible for severing the thread of the mortals' life) was composed in 1966-7 and is a tribute to the conductor Hermann Scherchen, who had died immediately after conducting Malipeiero's operatic triptych L'Orfeide. It briefly quotes some passages of that work. Each movement is terse and compact. The first starts ominously with a brass and bassoon ostinato in their low registers, over which develops and brooding and processional theme played by flute and oboe (I think), excerpted from L'Orfeide. A neo-classical woodwind dialogue in counterpoint is later developed, giving way to a typical forward-moving motto on strings in fugato fashion. Again in typical Malipiero fashion the movement ends abruptly. The second movement is surprisingly lyrical and romantic, and followed by a strongly dissonant and angular 3rd, almost to the point of cacophony, but abruptly changing to a short, soft ending. The finale is much in the same mood, very whimsical, with striking touches of orchestration, such as the harp and celesta (I think) chords that separate the movement's fast and the ultimate slow section, of great refinement.

As mentioned the Moscow strings sound ragged and unable of playing the same tone together, but there is no competition here, and these are remarkable works. TT is 71 mn.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95c86684) out of 5 stars To me, this recording just meanders along and does ... 16 Nov. 2014
By Abraham Kovler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
To me, this recording just meanders along and does not resonate my emotional bones at all! Pedestrian music with no out of the ordinary effects.
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