WORKS: Canti di prigionia; Cinque frammenti di Saffo; Due liriche di Anacreonte; Sex carmina Alcaei; Tempus destruendi – Tempus aedificandi; Due cori di Michelangelo Buonarroti il giovane
PERFORMER: Julie Moffat (soprano); New London Chamber Choir/James Wood, Ensemble InterContemporain/Hans Zender
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-98509-2 DDD
At last a first-rate recording of some of Dallapiccola’s masterpieces. Here is some of the most beautiful and perfectly crafted music of the 20th century – a purity of utterance of a kind that is rare indeed. The Canti di prigionia and the Greek Lyrics represent obverse sides of Dallapiccola’s reaction to the rise of fascism in Italy. The Canti are universal pleas for freedom from oppression: choral settings of Latin texts by three condemned prisoners, with an ensemble – at once translucent and apocalyptic – of two pianos, two harps and percussion.
In the darkest war years Dallapiccola also found solace in the serenity of the Greek poets. His three sets of Greek Lyrics are exquisite miniatures charting the progress of his journey towards twelve-note music in a country which had scarcely progressed beyond verismo opera.
Hans Zender and the Ensemble InterContemporain are admirable interpreters of this music, though Julie Moffat lacks the purity – andat times, the sheer power and intensity – the Liriche greche demand. The two fine a cappella works are superbly performed by James Wood’s New London Chamber Choir. Texts in Latin, Italian and Florentine dialect only, but don’t let that put you off: the importance of this issue can’t be overestimated. I urge you to try it. Misha Donat