Friday, August 8, 2014

Gian Francesco Malipiero, Piano Works (1909-1921), Rira Lim

On a summer's Friday morning such as this I can't think of a better way to start it than to write about the CD at hand. Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973) was a modern-oriented composer with a way all his own. But even given that, his early Piano Works (1909-1921) (Naxos 8.572517) occupy a special place. That's how I feel after listening closely to the new album by pianist Rira Lim, who does a fine job bringing out the complexities and nuances of the music.

Early Modernism fascinates me greatly in any event. It was a period of liberation and discovery. The creative energy released by opening up the harmonic, rhythmic and structural-melodic floodgates was real and filled with potential.

Malipiero responded with some very original piano music, of which we have five sets on the recording, two enjoying their first recordings, incredibly.

You hear some echoes of Debussy and Ravel, of Stravinsky, now and again, but only referentially. The truth is Malipiero was following his creative inner impetus on these works. He carves out of whole blocks a musical language that took advantage of impressionism's shimmering lyricism and harmonic development and the rhythmic drive of Stravinsky and goes with it to his own turf.

There's too much music to get into a blow-by-blow description. Suffice to say that "Cavalcante (Rides)" (1921) and "Tre danze antiche (Three Old Dances)" (1909-10), the first recordings in the set, take their place in the program as fully deserving our attention. They are joined by sensitive readings of "Poemetti lunari (Little Lunar Poems)" (1909-10), "Prelude autunnali (Autumnal Preludes)" (1914), and "Risonanze (Resonances)" (1918).

Malipiero was not much of a pianist and he detested the flamboyant virtuosity of the piano music then quite current. But as this album attests, he had a marvelous way of writing music that was quite pianistic, memorable and supremely musical without requiring superhuman pyrotechnical skills.

The volume is a treat. Rira Lim gives us a Malipiero many of us do not know, and she gives it to us with real artistry. It makes a fine companion volume to the Gino Gorini anthology of early-to-late Malipiero piano works (see the Novemeber 14, 2013 posting).

Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment