Here’s a set unique on record: Dallapiccola’s song cycles with small ensemble, mostly based on ancient and medieval texts are well-known as a cornerstone of his reputation for the kind of lyrical modernism which flowered in the work of Nono and Berio from the following generation. Like other Italian modernists such as Bruno Maderna, he was no less passionately interested in his cultural heritage represented here by the early-Baroque composers who developed the idea and practice of opera, such as Monteverdi, and Cavalli. He made practical editions for modern performance of many Baroque songs in order to disseminate this music at the time when scholarly interest was just beginning to move beyond academic confines into concert halls and recording studios, at the birth of the historically informed performance movement.
As the pianist Filippo Farinelli remarks in the booklet-note, "This is a repertoire that merits a place alongside Britten’s arrangements of Purcell and other famous English composers. Dallapiccola did much more than realise the basso continuo part. Thanks to his musicological studies, his unique artistic taste and his understanding of the great composers of the early 20th century, he was able to breathe new life into early music, allowing listeners to perceive it in fresh, new terms that ring entirely true."
Alongside these two volumes of songs by Caccini, Stradella, Frescobaldi and more are placed the two song cycles he conceived for voice and piano accomapaniment. Both use an adapted 12-tone language. Rencesvals from 1946 is a setting of fragments from the medieval Book of Roland (commissioned by Poulenc’s friend, the baritone Pierre Bernac: the two men gave the cycle’s first performance), and the four settings of Antonio Machado date from two years later. Encountering the socialist-realism texts of Machado was a seminal moment for Dallapiccola, whose work consistently protests against oppression. In these brief, high-lying settings we may hear a less sublimated version of the intense lyricism to which Schoenberg aspired in his Book of the Hanging Gardens.
The first Recording of the complete songs by Dallapiccola, one of the most influential composers of 20th century Italy. His political engagement and his experiments with the 12-tone technique established him firmly in the European Avant-Garde.
The main work on this double CD are the transcriptions he made of 17th and 18th century Italian songs, by Monteverdi, Caldara, Carissimi, Caccini, Durante, Stradella, Legrenzi and others. He wrote brilliantly dry and essential, making intelligent use of counterpoint and canon, with exquisite taste for vocal timbres and polyrhythm. In that sense they are far more “20th century” than similar transcriptions by other composers (Respighi, Busoni a.o.) who romanticised the original early works.
Also included are the two original song cycles by Dallapiccola: Rencesvals and Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado, fascinating testimony of his unique style, both severe and warmly emotional.
Beautifully performed by 4 excellent Italian singers who already recorded successfully the songs by Jolivet (BC9220) and Ravel (BC94743).
Scholarly written liner notes by the pianist, Filippo Farinelli.