HAPPENED TODAY - On June 19, 1915, the pianist and composer Sergej Taneyev died in Moscow

SILVIA CHIESA, The Italian Modernism

The third of the CDs dedicated by Silvia Chiesa to the cello and orchestra concerts of the Italian twentieth-century, together with the CDs dedicated to Nino Rota, Castelnuovo Tedesco e Malipiero, to underline the great interest of the Milanese cellist for a series of compositions that until now have never enjoyed the consideration they deserve, but which must certainly be placed among the most valuable works of music literature (and not only Italian) both by musicians and by the public and critics.

Silvia Chiesa is an Italian cellist, born in Milan. Since 2005, she has begun a partnership in duo with the pianist Maurizio Baglini, with whom she has performed in the main theaters in the world, including the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, the Sala Cecília Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, the Victoria Hall of Geneva, and many others. The duo’s discography includes the integral of Saint-Saëns, for a CD attached to the magazine “Amadeus“, the CD Cello Sonatas, dedicated to Brahms and Shubert, and the integral of the works for cello and piano by Rachmaninov, for Decca. She played the String Quintet op. 163 by Schubert with the Quartetto della Scala and the Haydn Concerts with the Camerata Ducale in a series of CDs engraved “live” at Amiata Piano Festival. She also recorded the world premiere of “…fra la carne e il Cielo” by Azio Corghi, dedicated to her, with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino conducted by Tito Ceccherini, with Maurizio Baglini, Valentina Coladonato and Omero Antonutti (also for Decca).
We also remember the performances of the trio formed by Silvia Chiesa with the violinist Francesca Dego and the pianist Mariangela Vacatello (Amiata Piano Festival, Fazioli Concert Hall). She is the dedicatee of Matteo D’Amico’s Concerto per violoncello e orchestra and performed in the Italian premiere of works by Gil Shohat, Nicola Campogrande, Aldo Clementi, Michele Dall’Ongaro, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gianluca Cascioli, Ivan Fedele and Giovanni Sollima.
As a soloist, she has collaborated with conductors such as Luciano Acocella, Paolo Arrivabeni, Gürer Aykal, Giampaolo Bisanti, Massimiliano Caldi, Tito Ceccherini, Daniele Gatti, Cristian Orosanu, Corrado Rovaris, Howard Shelley, Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, Francesco Angelico, Marco Angius, Corrado Rovaris, Daniele Rustioni, and Brian Wright. In 2014 she held concerts as a soloist or in a duo in Turin, Cremona, Geneva, Jerusalem, Lima, and New York.
She is a resident artist of the international chamber music festival “Amiata Piano Festival” and a teacher at the “Monteverdi” Institute of Music Studies in Cremona.
She plays a Giovanni Grancino cello from 1697.

The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI is an Italian symphony orchestra linked to the RAI state broadcaster, born in 1993 from the merger of the previous four RAI symphony orchestras, which were based in Turin, Rome, Naples, and Milan.

Corrado Rovaris has been the Musical Director of Opera Philadelphia since 2004 and regularly collaborates with the major Italian and foreign musical institutions.

Alfredo Casella, born in Turin in 1883, Ildebrando Pizzetti, born in Parma in 1880, Ottorino Respighi, born in Bologna in 1879. Three representatives of the so-called “Generation of the ’80”, a group of composers born in Italy, a nation that had recently achieved unity and sought a new national identity, not only at the political but also the cultural level. The intellectuals of the time felt more urgently than ever the need for a dense and constructive dialogue between the arts and, within the artistic movements of the time, it was not uncommon to see a painter sitting on the piano or a musician giving shape to his thoughts with color. Strengthened by an operatic tradition of enormous prestige, the Italian composers were accustomed to the convergence of the arts in artistic expression, and they also felt strongly the need to develop a modern and autonomous chamber and symphonic language. Their language treasured the great experiments that had profoundly changed the compositional style abroad, without forgetting the rich Italian tradition. They knew how to avoid the risk of imitating different styles that were then emerging, especially in France, Germany, and Russia. Casella, the son of two musicians, studied composition in Paris with Gabriel Fauré and often played four hands with Debussy. As a pianist, he gave concerts throughout Europe and met the main composers and performers of the time. He published a biography of Stravinsky and edited the first Italian editions of Beethoven and Bach. On his return to Italy, now a mature and affirmed musician, he dedicated himself not only to teaching, but also to the promotion of young European composers and, at the same time, of the Italian musical heritage of the past. Casella, in his compositions,  used a very personal language that well summarizes this double interest by creating, within traditional musical forms, melodic sequences often full of tension, evocative more in the design than in the colors, and exercised in controlled polytonality. Well anchored to tradition, but also to the artistic context in which he lives, Ildebrando Pizzetti also appears as the composer who always showed great interest in the Italian musical tradition, with particular attention to the Renaissance polyphony of Palestrina and Gregorian chant. But he also composed very different genre compositions such as music for a tragedy by D’Annunzio, and he was happy to create the column of the first great Italian films of those years: Scipione L’Africano (1937), I Promessi Sposi (1941), Il mulino del Po (1949). His compositional language often appears as a happy recovery of ancient compositions, orchestrated in a modern style. The use of counterpoint is frequent, created through the interweaving of elegant vocal lines, with a constant strenuous search for balance between earthly emotions and aspiration to a religious vision of life and art. Ottorino Respighi, having completed his studies in Italy, had the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of the German and Russian music of the time, weaving professional relationships with Nikolaj Rimsky-Korsakov Ferruccio Busoni, Max Bruch. His Adagio for cello and orchestra, a youth composition dedicated to his friend Antonio Certani, consisting of the elegant reworking of a theme inspired by a popular Romagna song, is a significant example of his contribution to creating a “modern” Italian musical language. The composition, definitively moving away from the search for empty instrumental virtuosity of the end of the 19th century, highlights the expressive tonal potential of the cello, making it the protagonist of intense musical dialogues with the other members of the orchestra: the woods, the English horn, and the harp.

Silvia Chiesa, with this beautiful recording, allows everyone to approach the repertoire she loves so much. All the listeners can easily perceive the intellectual and emotional participation of the expert interpreter, who faces the scores with passion, great technical and interpretative maturity, but also with great flexibility in giving voice, even in the smallest nuances, to the different compositional methods of the three authors proposed. The partnership with Director Rovaris and the Rai Orchestra did well, united in a project that led to the rediscovery of musical geography in the DNA of the Italian intellectual panorama.

The CD still honors Sony Classical’s commitment to propose this repertoire with courage and musical faith. Beautiful cover images, accurate notes, and precise indications inside, in Italian, English, French, and German.


The Italian Modernism

– ALFREDO CASELLA, Concerto per violoncello e orchestra, Op.58 (1935)
– OTTORINO RESPIGHI, Adagio con variazioni per violoncello e orchestra (1921)
– ILDEBRANDO PIZZETTI, Concerto per violoncello in do minore (1934)

Performers: Silvia Chiesa, cello – Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (dir. Carlo Rovaris)
Label: Sony Classical
Released: November 11, 2014

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