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Monday, March 26, 2018

Camillo Togni, Complete Piano Music 4, Aldo Orvieto

Just because we have some knowledge of the music of a place and time does not mean we truly have a representative sample in our heads of it. Of the Italian music scene around WWII and beyond for various reasons I do not I admit have a complete grasp of the composers who went on despite political developments and/or after them. Camillo Togni (1922-1993) is a name I know very little, for example. Yet the CD volume Complete Piano Music 4 (Naxos 8.573431) makes it plain that I have been missing out on an important figure.

The blurb on the CD back is useful. It says that the music reflects Togni's rethinking of 12-tone technique, chromatic harmony and lyricism. Fine. The blurb calls Togni "progressive and fiercely independent." Good words.

So the music bears out those words. This is not the 12-tone music of early Schoenberg, surely. It is expressive, it IS lyrical, it has a kind of passion, a personal vision, yet too it is in no way Romantic, but rather of its time, and also of a sort of balance that weighs each element in a sort of quasi-Baroque evenspinning.

The works on this disk all fall into that period described above, 1940-44. There are six compositions or sets of compositions in toto. There is "Suite, Op. 14a," "Serenata No. 2, Op. 11," Quattro Pezzi per pianoforte, Op. 22," "Serenata No. 4, Op. 15," "Serenata No. 5, Op. 18," and "Valtzer (ad usum Lyae)." None of these sound "Modern Generic," to say the least. All are permeated with a special sensibility and dynamic, brought out rather spectacularly well by pianist Aldo Orvieto. The cover tells us that these are "World Premier Recordings." And all the better for that because I find the music extraordinarily convincing.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So too, for the modest cost of a Naxos release, you can immerse yourself in some truly outstanding Italian Modernism, with the fresh fingerprint ID of a rather tragically underappreciated Camillo Togni. It makes me want to hear the other volumes, surely, and for that matter whatever else there is.

That should tell you something about how I feel about this volume. Listen closely! It is worth your time.

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