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Monday, October 6, 2014

Vittorio Giannini, Piano Quintet, Piano Trio

In the mid-20th century a composer who was determined to work within the parameters of an earlier style was not always given the attention his or her music deserved. Such was the case with Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966), whose neo-romantic approach may not have endeared him to the mainstream modern music circles, but whose music was generally memorable and finely crafted. Nonetheless he made his mark as a teacher of composition at Julliard, Curtis, etc. In my early years a Mercury recording of his "Symphony No. 3" by the Eastman Wind Ensemble coupled with Hovhaness' Fourth was readily available and served as my introduction to the composer. It remains well worth hearing if you can find it.

Now we have a very nicely performed volume of his chamber music, namely his Piano Quintet and Piano Trio (MSR Classics 1394) by Musicians of the Manchester Music Festival.

The two works are unapologetically romantic. Yet thematically and in terms of structure they are excellently wrought. It's music that sounds more like Brahms than Berio, of course, but if you disregard your expectations you hear some very fine music in full romantic flush. I am glad to have it.

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