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Giannini: Piano Concerto

David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality:

Sound Quality:

Vittorio Giannini wrote seven symphonies and other orchestral works, and we badly need to get to know them. Today the only piece with a tenuous hold on the repertoire is his marvelous symphony for band, a linchpin of the old Mercury Living Presence catalog. His Piano Concerto is a show-stopper: 40 minutes of sweeping melodies, harmonically colorful sequences, acres of virtuosity–it’s just plain good stuff and it would bring the house down in concert. Apparently this is its first performance since its premiere in 1937–scandalous! Happily, Gabriela Imreh flings herself at the piece and delivers an excellent performance of the elaborate solo part, while Daniel Spalding & Co. accompany enthusiastically.

The terse (23-minute), three-movement Fourth Symphony of 25 years later reveals a more mature composer writing in a fresher, more acerbic idiom. Giannini’s progress somewhat recalls that of Roussel, moving from Romantic to spiky (but still basically lyrical) neoclassicism. The use of fourth-based harmony somewhat recalls Hindemith, though with more colorful orchestration and more fluid rhythms. Again, the performance has plenty of the necessary rhythmic thrust, and the sound is good, but with some odd balances typical of Naxos productions in Bournemouth–an exaggerated front-to-back depth–but this never gets in the way of the music itself. More Giannini, please.

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: none

VITTORIO GIANNINI - Piano Concerto; Symphony No. 4

  • Record Label: Naxos - 8.559352
  • Medium: CD

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