Malipiero: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Sinfonie del silenzio e de la morte

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COMPOSERS: Malipiero
LABELS: Marco Polo
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Sinfonie del silenzio e de la morte
PERFORMER: Moscow SO/Antonio de Almeida
Malipiero was one of several Italian composers who matured during the Mussolini years and suffered some postwar neglect (even though pupils like Dallapiccola spoke up for them). His large, varied output is often described as ‘uneven’. Certainly his idiosyncratic approach to motivic development encourages a tendency towards inflated rhapsodising.


Yet there is much of interest here. Lush orchestration and a kind of Impressionist rapture (Debussy was a key influence) are two of his great qualities. The immediately attractive symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 are generally seen as the best-sustained of his numbered symphonies. Malipiero has a flair for dark, resdess writing and for conjuring serene, Mahlerian pastoral moods from the wistful modal songs of Venetian folk music. The early, non-Romantic Sinfonia del mare of 1906 and its successor, the Sinfonie delsilenzio e de la morte, are tone poems riddled with brilliant instrumental touches. Like his late string quartets, the later symphonies attempt, with varying success, a more modernist vein, occasionally taxing the strings.


The odd movement outstays its welcome. But de Almeida’s steady hand and his feel for outline and contours, plus the excellent response of these Russian players (not least the brass), added to a rich, warm acoustic and fine balancing, confirm this as one of Marco Polo’s best series to date. Roderic Dunnett