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Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968)

Orchestral Music

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä (conductor)
Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Originally issued on CDA67084
Recording details: December 1998
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: May 2009
Total duration: 75 minutes 27 seconds

Cover artwork: Venetian Sunset (from a series of paintings in aid of Venice in Peril, 1984-94) by Peter Marchi Nardini (b?)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / Private Collection
 
1
Rondò veneziano  [23'32]
2
Preludio a un altro giorno  [11'34]
Tre Preludii Sinfonici per L'Edipo Re di Sofocle  [17'47]
3
Largo  [5'53]
4
Con impeto  [5'59]
5
La Pisanella. Suite  [22'34]
6
Sire Huguet  [3'17]
7
8
9
10

With the exception of a few works by Ottorino Respighi, and for reasons which are relatively obscure, the orchestral concert music of the generation of Italian composers to which Ildebrando Pizzetti belongs has—so far as international acceptance is concerned—remained little-known outside Italy.

It can be claimed that this relative disregard surely has more to do with fashion and performing circumstance than with the quality of the music, and, of these undoubted masters, it is the art of Ildebrando Pizzetti which is perhaps most in need of reassessment and revival, for original music of this self-evident quality—music which was performed and recorded by, among others, Arturo Toscanini, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein and Tullio Serafin—manifestly does not deserve to remain unknown.

Pizzetti's music clearly declares him to have been a Latin composer, traditional in approach and general manner, yet always refined and polished by his mastery of a stylization which combined lyrical elements of late-Romanticism (in technique, not ethos), the clear structure of early Italian masters, and a tonal fluidity which may initially have owed a little to César Franck.

His music is imaginative and strikingly beautiful, from the music he composed for theatre (La Pisanella) to the mood pictures (Tre Preludii Sinfonici): all are sure to delight listeners and show that he is a composer who should be neglected no longer.

Awards

CLASSIC CD 'CHOICE'

Reviews

'Brilliantly colourful performances—no better way of winning converts to Pizzetti' (Gramophone)

'The four orchestral works on this magnificently-performed and brilliantly-recorded release show off Pizzetti’s sumptuous blend of romantic-impressionistic harmony with modally-inflected melody to its richest and most cinematic … if orchestral splendor is the music lover’s chocolate, this disc is a five-pound box of opera creams. Yum' (American Record Guide)

'This excellent and impeccably played survey reveals a talent well worth investigating' (The Scotsman)

'Strongly recommended' (Hi-Fi News)

'One of the most gorgeous recordings of orchestral music I have heard in the last year' (Crisis, USA)

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Ildebrando Pizzetti was born in Parma, not far from Verdi’s birthplace, in September 1880. His father, Odoardo, was a teacher of the piano, and when Ildebrando was two years old the family moved a little way south-east to Reggio Emilia. It was in this town that young Brando Pizzetti was educated, and although the environment at home was musical it was the theatre which first inspired the boy. Barely into his teens, and having already written several plays (two of which he produced with an ad hoc company), it seemed as though his artistic career was firmly fixed; but, when he was fifteen, Pizzetti entered the Parma Musical Conservatoire.

He remained at the Conservatoire from 1895 until 1901. In 1897 the directorship passed to Giovanni Tebaldini (1864–1952)—a remarkable musical scholar who, in 1909, published a sensational essay virtually accusing Richard Strauss of musical plagiarism in his opera Elektra, attempting to show that around fifty themes from Elektra (1909) bore striking similarities to those from the opera Cassandra (1905) by Vittorio Gnecchi (1876–1954).

As may be expected, Tebaldini ensured his students, including Pizzetti, became familiar with the latest music. He also introduced them to neglected early Italian music—twin influences which remained throughout Pizzetti’s adult life. Brando Pizzetti was a keen, hard-working student, and before his graduation in 1901 had already composed and heard performed a number of large-scale works including a symphony, two other symphonic pieces, a cantata with orchestra, a violin sonata and some sacred works. In October 1900, as one of a group of young students, he met Verdi, in whose presence, he recalled, ‘a complete silence descended on the scene. Very rarely, either before or since, have I had such an impression of universal religious awe.’

After his graduation Pizzetti devoted his life to composition, teaching, and writing about music. His extensive output was dominated—although not exclusively—by his music for the theatre, a notable aspect being his choice of recurrent elements of mysticism in such works. Pizzetti also became a much admired and widely respected teacher, in which capacity he held a succession of increasingly important posts. As can be heard in the music on this CD, both Pizzetti’s technique and his musical personality remained remarkably constant throughout his life. His music clearly declares him to have been a Latin composer, traditional in approach and general manner, yet always refined and polished by his mastery of a stylization which combined lyrical elements of late-Romanticism (in technique, not ethos), the clear structure of early Italian masters, and a tonal fluidity which may initially have owed a little to César Franck. Pizzetti’s critical writings include several books, one of them being a biography of Paganini. Together with Giuseppe Bastianelli, he co-founded a journal of modern music, Dissonanza, in 1914.

Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999

Ildebrando Pizzetti naquit à Parme, non loin du lieu de naissance de Verdi, en septembre 1880. Son père Odoardo était professeur de piano et, quand Ildebrando eut deux ans, la famille s’installa un peu au sud-est de Parme, à Reggio Emilia. Ce fut dans cette ville que le jeune Brando fut éduqué—et d’abord inspiré par le théâtre, en dépit du milieu musical dont il était issu. Encore à peine adolescent, il avait déjà écrit plusieurs pièces de théâtre (dont deux produites avec une compagnie ad hoc) et sa carrière artistique semblait fermement établie lorsqu’il entra, à quinze ans, au Conservatoire de musique de Parme.

Il y demeura de 1895 à 1901. En 1897, la direction passa à Giovanni Tebaldini (1864–1952). Bien sûr, Tebaldini veilla à ce que ses étudiants, dont Pizzetti, se familiarisassent avec les toute dernières musiques. Mais il leur fit aussi découvrir le répertoire négligé de la musique italienne ancienne—influences gémellaires que Pizzetti conserva à jamais. Étudiant studieux et travailleur, Brando Pizzetti avait déjà composé, avant son diplôme (1901), un certain nombre d’œuvres à grande échelle (dont une symphonie, deux pièces symphoniques, une cantate avec orchestre, une sonate pour violon et quelques œuvres sacrées), qui avaient été jouées. En octobre 1900, il rencontra, avec d’autres jeunes étudiants, Verdi, en la présence duquel, se souvint-il, «un silence total s’abattit sur la scène. Très rarement avais-je ressenti alors—et n’ai-je ressenti depuis—pareille impression d’admiration religieuse et universelle». Passé son diplôme, Pizzetti consacra sa vie à la composition, à l’enseignement et à la rédaction d’ouvrages musicaux. Sa vaste production fut essentiellement dominée par la musique de scène, avec, notamment, de récurrents éléments de mysticisme. Pizzetti devint également un professeur fort admiré et respecté, qui occupa des postes de plus en plus importants. Comme l’attestent les œuvres du présent CD, et sa technique et sa personnalité musicale demeurèrent remarquablement constantes. Ses œuvres font clairement de lui un compositeur latin, traditionnel dans sa manière d’appréhender la musique, mais toujours raffiné et élégant grâce à sa maîtrise d’une stylisation combinant des éléments lyriques du romantisme tardif (sur le plan non de l’ethos, mais de la technique) à la structure limpide des premiers maîtres italiens et à une fluidité tonale qui, au début, a dû un peu emprunter à César Franck. Pizzetti écrivit plusieurs ouvrages critiques, dont une biographie de Paganini. Avec Giuseppe Bastianelli, il cofonda, en 1914, un journal de musique moderne, Dissonanza.

Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999
Français: Hypérion

Ildebrando Pizzetti wurde im September 1880 unweit von Verdis Geburtsort in Parma geboren. Sein Vater Odoardo war Klavierlehrer, und als Ildebrando zwei Jahre alt war, zog die Familie ein Stück weiter südöstlich nach Reggio Emilia. In dieser Stadt ging der junge Brando Pizzetti zur Schule, und obwohl sein häusliches Milieu von Musik geprägt war, inspirierte den Knaben zunächst das Theater. Kaum den Kinderschuhen entwachsen hatte er bereits mehrere Dramen geschrieben—von denen er zwei mit Hilfe einer ad hoc zusammengestellten Truppe aufführte—und schien in seiner Künstlerlaufbahn eindeutig festgelegt zu sein. Doch dann ging Pizzetti, als er fünfzehn war, in Parma aufs Konservatorium.

Er blieb von 1895 bis 1901 am Konservatorium. Im Jahr 1897 übernahm Giovanni Tebaldini (1864–1952) das Direktorat. Wie zu erwarten sorgte Tebaldini dafür, daß seine Schüler, so auch Pizzetti, mit der neuesten Musik vertraut gemacht wurden. Außerdem brachte er ihnen unbeachtete Werke der alten Musik Italiens nahe. Beide Einflüsse blieben Pizzetti sein ganzes Erwachsenleben über erhalten. Brando Pizzetti war ein eifriger, fleißiger Student und hatte vor seinem Studienabschluß 1901 bereits eine Reihe großangelegter Werke komponiert und im Konzert gehört, darunter eine Sinfonie, zwei weitere sinfonische Stücke, eine Kantate mit Orchester, eine Violinsonate und mehrere sakrale Werke. Im Oktober 1900 lernte er zusammen mit anderen Studenten Verdi kennen und erinnerte sich später daran, daß in seiner Gegenwart „tiefes Schweigen eintrat. Selten hatte ich vorher oder seither einen solchen Eindruck allgemeiner religiöser Ehrfurcht“.

Nach abgeschlossenem Studium widmete Pizzetti sein weiteres Leben der Komposition, dem Erteilen von Musikunterricht und dem Schreiben über Musik. Sein umfangreiches Gesamtwerk wurde—wenn auch nicht ausschließlich—von seiner Musik für die Bühne beherrscht. Ein bemerkenswerter Aspekt ist seine Wahl wiederkehrender mystischer Elemente in Werken dieser Art. Daneben wurde Pizzetti ein vielbewunderter und weithin respektierter Lehrer und hatte in dieser Funktion eine Folge zunehmend wichtiger Ämter inne. Wie anhand der Musik auf der vorliegenden CD zu hören ist, blieben Pizzettis Kompositionstechnik und musikalische Persönlichkeit zeit seines Lebens bemerkenswert konstant. Seine Musik weist ihn eindeutig als südländischen Komponisten aus, als traditionell im Herangehen und Grundgebaren, aber immer kultiviert und ausgefeilt. Er wußte mit einer Stilisierung umzugehen, die lyrische Elemente der Spätromantik (bezüglich der Technik, nicht des Ethos) und die klare Struktur alter italienischer Meister mit einer tonalen Geläufigkeit verband, die er wohl anfangs in gewissem Maße César Franck zu verdanken hatte. Zu Pizzettis kritischen Schriften gehören mehrere Bücher, darunter eine Biographie Paganinis. Zusammen mit Giuseppe Bastianelli gründete er 1914 Dissonanza, eine Zeitschrift für moderne Musik.

Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

Ildebrando Pizzetti nacque a Parma, non lontano dal luogo natale di Verdi, nel settembre del 1880. Suo padre, Odoardo, era un insegnante di pianoforte. All’età di due anni, si trasferí con la famiglia in una città di poco a sud-est di Reggio Emilia. Fu qui dove il giovane Brando Pizzetti ricevette la sua educazione, e sebbene in casa respirasse un’atmosfera musicale fu dapprima il teatro ad inspirarlo. Nella sua prima fase adolescenziale, ed avendo scritto diverse composizioni, due delle quali egli produsse con una società ad hoc—sembrava come se la sua carriera artistica fosse stata severamente stabilita, ma, all’età di quindici anni, Pizzetti si iscrisse al Conservatorio Musicale di Parma.

Il giovane rimase nel Conservatorio dal 1895 al 1901. Nel 1897 il direttorato passò a Giovanni Tebaldini (1864–1952). Come si poteva prevedere, Tebaldini rassicurava i suoi studenti, compreso il Pizzetti, e li familiarizzò con la musica più recente. Li introdusse anche alla musica italiana precedente trascurata dalle mode musicali contemporanee—doppia influenza che restò in tutta la vita di Pizzetti adulto. Brando Pizzetti era uno studente interessato e completamente dedito, e prima della sua laurea nel 1901 aveva già composto ed eseguito diversi lavori impegnativi compresi una sinfonia, due altri pezzi sinfoici, una cantata con orchestra, una sonata per violino ed alcuni lavori di carattere sacro. Nell’ottobre del 1900, con un gruppo di studenti, incontrò Verdi, alla cui presenza, ricordava, «un silenzio assoluto discese sulla scena. Molto raramente prima di allora o da allora, ho provato una tale sensazione di timore religioso universale.»

Da dopo la laurea Pizzetti dedicò tutta la sua vita alla composizione, all’insegnamento e alla scrittura di musica. Seppur non esclusivamente, il suo notevole contributo era dominato dalla sua musica per il teatro, e la sua scelta di elementi di misticismo divenne un aspetto notevole delle sue opere. Pizzetti era anche un insegnate ammirato e rispettato ovunque, e grazie alle sue qualità egli ottenne una serie sempre più importante di incarichi. Come si può ascoltare su questo CD, sia la tecnica che la personalità musicale di Pizzetti rimasero notevolmente costanti in tutta la sua vita. La sua musica lo dichiara chiaramente come un compositore latino, tradizionale nell’approccio e nei sui modi generali, tuttavia sempre raffinato e distinto grazie alla maestria del suo stile che combinava elementi lirici del tardo romanticismo (espressione tecnica, non di una norma di vita), la struttura chiara dei primi maestri italiani, e fluidità tonale, che inizialmente si rifaceva un poco a César Franck. Pizzetti scrisse delle opere di critica comprendenti numerosi libri, uno dei quali fu la biografia di Paganini. Nel 1914, in collaborazione con Giuseppe Bastianelli, fondò un giornale di musica moderna chiamato Dissonanza.

Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999
Italiano: Atlas Translations

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