The Music of Eliodoro Sollima

Sollima cover

SOLLIMA: Cello Sonata. Studi for Violin & Clarinet. Tre movimenti for Piano, Violin & Cello. Evoluziona No. 5. Quartetto No. 3 la leggenda di San Damiano. Aria for Piano, Violin, Viola & 2 Cellos* / Ensemble Kinari: Azusa Onishi, vln; Gianluca Pirisi, cel; Mizuho Ueyama, vla; Flavia Salemmi, pno. *Giovanni Solima, cel / Brilliant Classics 96287

From the publicity blurb for this CD:

Eliodoro Sollima (1926-2000) was a Sicilian musician raised in the town of Marsala, where the concert hall is dedicated to his memory. From 1954 to 1991 he taught composition at the conservatoire in Palermo, where he was also the institution’s director for 16 years. This is the only album dedicated to his music: new recordings made by a young contemporary music ensemble, who are joined by the composer’s son, Giovanni Sollima, a cellist and composer in his own right who has made several previous albums for Brilliant Classics.

What struck me from the very opening of the Cello Sonata was a composer who walked a bit of a tightrope between more tonal, melodic music and more modern harmonies. He clearly knew the basic principles of composition; his music has focus and direction, and makes logical sense. Despite the occasional modern harmonies, the cello line has sweep and a definable melodic structure. It’s the piano that takes things in a different direction, eventually pulling the cello along with it.

Yet the music holds your interest because of Sollima’s excellent grasp of structure as well his willingness to take some risks. The third and last movement of this Cello Sonata contains some extremely difficult, virtuoso passages for both instruments, which Gianluca Pirisi and Flavia Salemmi handle extremely well.

Interestingly, in the Tre movimenti Sollima abandoned his tonal bias to produce a mostly atonal work. Yet even here his gift for a melodic line comes through, and if anything it is an even more imaginative piece than the Cello Sonata. From phrase to phrase one never quite knows what to expect; it’s music that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Evoluziona No. 5 is cut from the same cloth, driving, intense and highly imaginative music that holds your interest. By Quartetto No. 3 we’re back to Sollima’s more Romantic side, but once again we note that there are some passages in which the underlying harmony slips around chromatically here and there.

Ironically, the Aria for Piano, Violin, Viola & 2 Cellos, on which the composer’s son also plays, is the most Romantic and least interesting piece on the CD, but all in all this is an excellent cross-section of Sollima’s works worthy of hearing and respect. He was clearly a fine composer, and several of these works deserve wider exposure.

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter (@Artmusiclounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)

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