WORKS: Partita; Dialoghi; Quattro Liriche di Antonio Machado; Three Questions with Two Answers
PERFORMER: Paul Watkins (cello), Gillian Keith (soprano); BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10561
The jewel among this collection is the Quattro liriche di Antonio Machado – one of those miniature song-cycles of exquisite beauty at which Dallapiccola was so adept. He composed it in 1948, for voice and piano, though it’s presented here in the version for chamber ensemble that he made nearly 20 years later.
The admirable soloist is Gillian Keith, who is also heard in the finale of the Partita – one of the very earliest scores in which Dallapiccola’s voice can be heard.
A line from one of the Machado poems haunted Dallapiccola, and it is paraphrased at the start and close of Dallapiccola’s final opera, Ulisse. The orchestral piece called Three Questions With Two Answers was a preparatory study for the opera – a collage of as yet not fully formed fragments from the stage work, bound together by a recurring rhythmic figure.
Despite Watkins’s eloquent performance of the solo part, Dialoghi is a tougher nut to crack. It’s an unusually rigorous serial piece of work, and the angular orchestral contribution here sounds
a little under-rehearsed. But this is an important and welcome addition to the slender Dallapiccola discography. Misha Donat