Sciarrino: Complete piano works, 1969-92

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COMPOSERS: Sciarrino
LABELS: Dynamic
WORKS: Complete piano works, 1969-92
PERFORMER: Massimiliano Damerini (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: S 2015
The core of Salvatore Sciarrino’s output for piano as covered on this hugely rewarding collection is the series of four piano sonatas composed between 1976 and 1992. All of them are immensely and sometimes, it seems, impossibly virtuosic – Massimiliano Damerini’s performances are staggeringly intense – and each explores the sound resources of the instrument from a different perspective, always aware of the pianistic tradition. There are explicit echoes of Liszt in the First; the Second is a study of resonance over a constant pedal point and the Third full of lightning fast figuration, while the cataclysmic Fourth features pounding clusters at both ends of the keyboard.

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If the sonatas are unquestionably works which deserve a place among the classics of contemporary piano-writing, the smaller works are equally fascinating. The glistening scales of the Prelude are an early example of Sciarrino’s bewitchingly ethereal sound-world, and both De la nuit and Anamorfosi are derived from Ravel, the first atomising Gaspard de la nuit, the second weaving threads of Jeux d’eau into the melody of ‘Singing in the Rain’. The Étude de concert is a formidable challenge in the Lisztian tradition, while the rarefied atmosphere of Perduto in una città d’acque, with its irregular silences, sudden flashes of intensity and ghostly chorale, could not have been written by any other composer. Andrew Clements