Dallapiccola: Sonatina canonica, su capricci di Niccolò Paganini; Quaderno musicale di Annalibera; Quattro liriche di Antonio Machado; Ciaccona, intermezzo e adagio; Goethe-Lieder; Tre episodi dal balletto marsia

COMPOSERS: Dallapiccola
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Dallapiccola
WORKS: Sonatina canonica, su capricci di Niccolò Paganini; Quaderno musicale di Annalibera; Quattro liriche di Antonio Machado; Ciaccona, intermezzo e adagio; Goethe-Lieder; Tre episodi dal balletto marsia
PERFORMER: Susan Hamilton (soprano), Nicola Stonehouse (mezzo-soprano), Robert Irvine (cello), David Wilde (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34020
Pianist David Wilde seems more at home in the lugubrious tonal world of Dallapiccola’s Sonatina canonica based on Paganini Caprices, than in the more penetrating 12-tonal realm of the Quaderno musicale di Annalibera – the ‘musical notebook’ the composer wrote for his eight-year-old daughter in 1952. In the latter, Wilde is far too strident, entirely missing the intimate lyricism of several of the numbers. The dynamic shading of the music’s complex contrapuntal layers calls for greater subtlety, too. A similar fault mars theGoethe-Lieder for mezzo-soprano and three clarinets – a mystical marriage of music and poetry in which pianissimo singing of a kind that Nicola Stonehouse fails to produce is vital. More successful are the four settings of Antonio Machado, of 1948, where Susan Hamilton offers admirable warmth, together with that ‘floating’ vocal quality so essential to this music – despite the fact that a passage in the third song clearly lies uncomfortably low for her. Robert Irvine also copes well with the extreme technical demands of the large-scale Chaconne, Intermezzo and Adagio.

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This is an important disc, but it’s a pity that the meticulousness of the music isn’t always matched in the performances. For the solo piano items, Roberto Prosseda offers preferable versions on an inexpensive Naxos CD which all Dallapiccola admirers should own, but there are currently no alternatives for the song cycles. Misha Donat