Belli Conducts Ghedini & Hindemith

BC96117 cover

GHEDINI: Musica da Concerto.* Musica Concertante.# HINDEMITH: Schulwerk: 5 Pieces for String Orchestra+ / *Simonide Braconi, vla/vla d’amore; +Lucio Degani, 1st vln; #Enrico Bronzi, cel; Nuovo Orch. de Camera “Ferruccio Busoni”; Massimo Belli, cond / Brilliant Classics BC96117

This is the kind of CD I enjoy listening to for review: three unusual works by two fine 20th century composers. Would that most modern CD releases were this kind of music instead of more of the same old same old, which we clearly don’t need.

Compared to Per Nørgård’s Eight Symphonies, which I had just finished reviewing, Ghedini’s 1953 Musica da Concerto sounds like Mozart—which is not intended as a criticism. As the notes indicate, Ghedini loved “the music of much older periods – Frescobaldi, Monteverdi, the Gabrielis, etc. His independence from any school of composers and his alienation from avant- garde trends make him a genuinely individual figure.” And despite his aversion to the more abrasive of modern harmonic music, not only of the 12-tone school but also of Stravinsky and Bartók, Ghedini did use modern harmonies, but always in a way that did not alienate the average listener while still attracting those who enjoyed music that was not beyond their range of experience. He was sort of a milder Italian relative of early Shostakovich or Britten, which wasn’t a bad thing. In this concerto, he lays out his theme broadly and lyrically while still moving into interesting rhythmic and contrapuntal figures as the music progresses. The music still challenges the ears of those listeners used to Respighi and Wolf-Ferrari, but clearly not to an extent that is off-putting. Both violist Braconi and conductor Belli clearly love this music, playing it with warmth and affection without unduly softening its contours when the rhythm becomes more sharply defined.

Interestingly, Hindemith’s Schulwerk, written in 1927—his early prime as a composer—is also mostly tonal and lyrical; in fact, the first of the five pieces is slow and moody, sounding much like a Brahmsian serenade except for a few unusual (but not abrasive) harmonies. The second piece, “Langsam – Schnell,” almost sounds like early Britten, and the third piece, “Lebhaft,” is also rather jaunty, with some nice counterpoint. This, too, is played with loving case by the Orchestra “Ferruccio Busoni.”

If anything, Ghedini’s Musica Concertante sounds even more Romantic than his earlier piece. Written for cello and string orchestra in 1962, it almost sounds at first like a lullaby, and a piece that would not be out of place on your local classical FM radio station. The nervous-sounding last fast section (the piece is in one movement), however, makes it quite interesting in places.

While not an indispensable disc, it is an eminently listenable one that may dispense some listeners’ fears of and repulsion of “modern music.” Recommended for admirers of these composers.

—© 2022 Lynn René Bayley

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