Beethoven, Webern, Schoenberg, Ligeti, Boulez

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Boulez,Ligeti,Schoenberg,Webern
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Gianluca Cascioli
WORKS: 32 Variations on an Original Theme; Six Bagatelles, Op. 126; Fantasy, Op. 77; Movement; Sonata Movement; Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23; Études, Bk 1/2 & 4; Incises
PERFORMER: Gianluca Cascioli (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 447 766-2
In 1994 the jury of the Umberto Micheli International Competition, including Berio, Elliott Carter and Pollini, awarded first prize to a 15-year-old pianist from Turin. The competition aimed to put 20th-century piano music firmly on the map, and entrants were required to programme contemporary works alongside Beethoven – hence the eclectic nature of Gianluca Cascioli’s repertoire on these DG recordings. Cascioli is clearly a musician with a probing mind, and on one of these discs Beethoven rubs shoulders with Liszt’s futuristic Toccata and Busoni’s equally abstruse Indian Diary. This first CD ventures no further than Prokofiev; but its companion takes us all the way from Beethoven’s outrageously quirky Fantasy, Op. 77 to Boulez’s specially written competition piece, taking in early Webern and seminal Schoenberg (the Op. 23 Pieces) as well as two of Ligeti’s riveting Études on the way.

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No one should reasonably expect a young teenager to plumb the depths of late Beethoven, and the rather laboured performance of the Op. 126 Bagatelles provides the one disappointment here. For the rest, these stimulating discs provide an exhilarating experience, with Cascioli revelling as much in the scrunching guitar dissonances of Scarlatti as in the powerful percussive writing of Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance and Prokofiev’s Suggestion diabolique. An exciting newcomer. Misha Donat