Berio: Piano Sonata; Six Encores; Sequenza IV; Cinque Variazioni; Rounds etc

COMPOSERS: Berio
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Berio
WORKS: Piano Sonata; Six Encores; Sequenza IV; Cinque Variazioni; Rounds etc
PERFORMER: Andrea Lucchesini (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2104
Andrea Lucchesini’s survey of Berio’s works for solo piano covers more or less the same ground as a disc by Francesco Tristano Schlimé released on the Sisyphe label last year. Both include all the major pieces – the Dallapiccola-like Cinque Variazioni, Sequenza IV and the late Sonata – as well as the miniatures collected into a set as Six Encores and the piano version of Rounds, originally written for harpsichord. But where Schlimé includes the very early and totally uncharacteristic Petite Suite from 1947, the Avie disc has a couple of late pieces for four hands, Touch and Canzonetta, typical little essays in crossing lines and layered rhythms which Berio wrote for Lucchesini and his wife, who joins him for them here.

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It’s the accounts of the impressive Sonata, though, that point up the basic differences between the rival discs. Lucchesini, who gave the work’s premiere in 2001, takes just 23 minutes over it here, with a lightness of touch and nervous intensity that seem a perfect match for the music’s obsession with a repeated single pitch that gradually develops into flurries of moto perpetuo. Schlimé takes more than five minutes longer, making the gestures bolder and more emphatic. He takes less care with Berio’s subtle shading, which the Avie recording captures so faithfully for Lucchesini. Andrew Clements