Pizzetti & Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Arioso

In this video

Composers: Ildebrando Pizzetti, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Artists: Amedeo Cicchese (cello), Barbara Panzarella (piano)

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A unique but logical coupling on record: lyrical cello sonatas of ready melodic appeal, superbly written for the instrument by two 20th-century Italian composers who remained aloof from both the lure of verismo and the tenets of modernism.

Any cellist seeking new repertoire, and any listener in search of Romantic cello sonatas beyond Brahms, will alight upon this album with enthusiasm. Although Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) studied under Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968) at the Conservatoire in Florence during the early years of the 20th century, their paths diverged when the Jewish Castelnuovo-Tedesco had to emigrate to the US in 1938.

Back in 1921 Pizzetti had composed a Cello Sonata thematically unified across its three movements, with an ‘agitated andanguished’ Scherzo at its heart, while the slow outer movements translate elements of medieval chant and polyphony into soulful meditations. Three years later he composed a cycle of Tre Canti – three songs more commonly encountered in the version for violin and piano but better suited to the pitch and expressive range of the cello, so closely moulded to that of the human voice. And these really are ‘songs without words’ – by turns affectionate, tender and impassioned.

The younger Castelnuovo-Tedesco was more concerned to establish a mood than to tell a story in his instrumental music, and the first movement of his Cello Sonata from 1928 is an object example of his tendency to face both backwards and forwards, artistically speaking, so that he can evoke Romanticism while simultaneously casting doubt upon its certainties and view them from an anxious distance. The album is rounded off with the delicious fantasy on the Largo al factotum and ‘Un voce po’ fa’ from Il barbiere di Siviglia which Castelnuovo-Tedesco composed in two versions, for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, having emigrated and become a fixture on the Hollywood musical scene.

00:00:00 Ildebrando Pizzetti: 3 Canti: I. Affettuoso
00:04:34 Ildebrando Pizzetti: 3 Canti: II. Quasi grave e commosso
00:07:55 Ildebrando Pizzetti: 3 Canti: III. Appassionato
00:12:15 Ildebrando Pizzetti: Sonata in F Major: I. Largo
00:25:05 Ildebrando Pizzetti: Sonata in F Major: II. Molto concitato e angoscioso
00:35:05 Ildebrando Pizzetti: Sonata in F Major: III. Stanco e triste – Largo
00:44:03 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: I. Arioso e sereno
00:52:47 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: II. Arietta con variazioni – Allegretto, grazioso e un poco malinconico
00:54:01 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: III. Vivacemente
00:54:46 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: IV. Dolente ma con fierezza
00:56:06 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: V. Rustico
00:57:32 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: VI. Largo e pomposo
00:59:06 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonata, Op. 50: VII. Energico e ben ritmato
01:02:21 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Figaro Fantasy on ”Il barbiere di Siviglia”

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