Chiefly known for his film music – most famously for scoring the film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was also a fine instrumental composer. He was born in Florence in 1895, at a pivotal point in Italian music, being younger than the operatic generation of Verdi but he also witnessed the rise of more experimental compositional techniques during the following century. His desire to promote his Jewish roots through his music was thwarted by rising anti-Semitism in Italy, and, like many other European Jewish composers, he found a new career in Hollywood, moving to America in the summer of 1939.
This release presents a selection of his works for piano. From the reminiscent Alghe (or ‘seaweed’), which features a delicate melody over shimmering Debussy- like harmonies, to Le stagioni (‘The Seasons’) and I naviganti (‘The Sailors’), Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a master at creating evocative images of provincial life through his music. His longer, more virtuosic works take on grander themes; Alt Wien is described as a ‘Viennese rhapsody’, and Piedigrotta takes us through a whirlwind of Neapolitan music, starting with a dark and pulsating tarantella, after which the music sinks gently into an undulating rhythm to evoke the image of a moonlit Neapolitan evening. Le danze del Re David reveal an unexpectedly hard edge to the composer, turning dark and violent, with movement names such as ‘rapid and savage’ and ‘warlike Allegro’, finally culminating in a ‘clear and solemn’ conclusion.
Determined not to let Castelnuovo-Tedesco fade into obscurity, or be remembered only for his film music, Claudio Curti Gialdino is inspired by renowned Italian pianist Aldo Ciccolini, who has previously recorded the composer’s complete works for piano. The dedicatee of this release, Ciccolini was also Gialdino’s teacher, allowing him to create an insightful, sensitive and very personal interpretation of these works.
Maria Castelnuovo-Tedesco was one of the most successful and remarkable composers of the first half of the 20th century in Italy. His style is influenced by Neo-Classicism, vivid, brilliant, with the occasional odd dissonance, strongly rhythmical and full of catchy melodies. He fled Anti-semitism before WWO2, and settled in Hollywood where he successfully composed film music for more than 200 films.
Apart from his importance as a guitar composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco created a small but appealing oeuvre for piano solo. This new recording presents a selection of these evocative and tuneful works, which deserve to be played more often in the concert halls.
Excellent performance by Italian pianist Claudio Curti Gialdino.
Recorded in Naples in 2013.
Contains notes on the composer and artist.
Le stagioni, Op.33: I. L’inverno: Andantino, II. La primavera. Rapido e leggero, II. L’estate. Vivo e luminoso, IV. L’autunno. Tranquillo e ondulato, V. Epilogo. Con malinconia, quasi recitativo
Alt Wien Op. 30: I. Alt Wien, II. Nachtmusik, III. Memento mori
I naviganti Op. 13
Le danze del Re David Op. 37: I. Violento ed impetuoso —, II. Ieratico —, III. Rapido e selvaggio, IV. Lento ed estatico —, V. Rude e ben ritmato —, VI. Malinconico e supplichevole —, VII. Allegro guerriero —, VIII. Alla Chiusa, chiaro e solenne
Piedigrotta Op. 32: I. Tarantella scura. Allegro furioso, II. Notte e luna. Dolcemente mosso, III. Calasciunate. Allegramente quasi chitarrata, IV. Voce luntana. Lento e nostalgico, V. Lariulà!. Assai mosso