Giulio Ricordi (1840 – 1912) was the grandson of Giovanni, who founded the family firm of music publishers that bears his name to this day. Were it not for the successful efforts of Giulio in luring Verdi out of retirement to work with Arrigo Boito, we would not now have Otello and Falstaff; and had it not been for Ricordi’s careful management, the young and headstrong Puccini may have burnt out before writing the stream of lyric masterpieces which made his name and his fortune.
However, Ricordi was a dilettante musician of considerable gifts, as this album of his piano-duet music reveals, and as Verdi himself was prepared to recognise: ‘When I look at the young people in my circle,’ Verdi wrote to Ghislanzoni, librettist of Aida, ‘I can tell you that Giulio Ricordi is the one with the best knowledge of music.’ He published his music under the pseudonym of Burgmein, perhaps to circumvent accusations of a conflict of interest, from which small deception arose an extraordinary situation in which the aged Liszt wrote to Ricordi praising the music of Burgmein and asking after its composer: ‘He is a master musician: ingenious, skilful, pleasant, elegant, distinguished, refined and expert.’
Perhaps the scoring of these pieces indicates that Ricordi had one eye on the lucrative market for domestic consumption, but they are ingenious in effect and crafted for skilful performers: indeed, the final ‘Chinese Serenade’ on the disc exploits harmonic partials on the piano by means of a then-novel pedal effect. There is also an exuberant Venetian Carnival suite, a Doll’s Waltz and several other witty miniatures before the collection of 15 nationally coloured serenades. The booklet notes by Giancarlo Simonacci give full details of Ricordi’s life and work.
The name of Ricordi is best known as one of the most famous and prestigious music publishing houses of the world. Founded by his grandfather Giovanni, the firm gained great reputation under Giulio Ricordi’s leadership, notably by publishing Verdi’s operas. Giulio not only had a good nose for quality music and commerce, but he was also a composer himself. This CD presents his works for piano 4-hands, salon music of high quality, very much “en vogue“ in that time. The titles of the pieces give a clear indication of the style: Carnaval vénitien, Le bal de la poupée, Le livre des Sérénades, Galop abracadabrant…
Played with obvious enjoyment by the Duo Pianistico, Gabriella Morelli and Giancarlo Simonacci.