Casella began life as a pianist (a pupil of Diémer and Fauré). As a composer, he experimented with various styles throughout his life, as a Romantic, then as an Impressionist before moving on to polytonal and later twelve-tone techniques. After Busoni’s death he was hailed as the leading Italian composer of his day and the most influential figure in his country’s musical life.
Deux Contrastes was written in Rome between 1916 and 1918. Grazioso (Hommage à Chopin) is, depending on your point of view, a harmonically distorted or humourously cheeky treatment of Chopin’s Prelude in A major, Op 28 No 7, while Antigrazioso is a brief, dissonant dance (marked ‘Allegro vivace e grottesco’), avant-garde for its day.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2001