There are different ways in which a classically trained composer can nowadays be labelled as contemporary, whereas such a term is not intended in the literal/chronological sense. For some, being contemporary means to keep following the path ‒ the only possible one, according to the advocates of the most orthodox avant-garde movement ‒ opened up by the dodecaphonic school and resulted in structuralism or, alternatively, in spectralism. For others, contemporaneity must rather be sought and pursued by abandoning the strictness of cold and dissonant formalism, and by experimenting with classical as well as non-classical sources, the latter comprising jazz, rock, folk, and electronic music. For still others, it is possible to write contemporary music by moving along the lines traced by western classical music tradition, i.e. by recovering and renewing its stylistic features and formal solutions and by using them in order to satisfy those expressive ends which are perceived as more urgent. The latter ‒ according to the threefold subdivision hereby proposed, not to be understood in a strict sense, insofar as it allows for mutual intrusions ‒ is the way followed by David Fontanesi. His language draws fully ‒ in a conscious but creative manner ‒ from the rich array of techniques inherited from the past: counterpoint, in the first place; the dialectical resources of tonal harmony; classic forms like fugue or theme with variations. He is able to combine dense contrapuntal dialogues between the instruments with episodes of genuine lyricism. Paradigmatic, in this sense, are the sonatas for flute and oboe (composed respectively in 2017 and in 2018), in which melodies imbued with a subtle feeling of nostalgia flow through smooth harmonic canvases ‒ which recall some twentieth-century French composers, such as Poulenc or Francaix ‒ before they give way to the rhythmic liveliness of the baroque-like fast sections, which sometimes make their entrance even during the unfolding of a slow movement. Within a firm and balanced structural frame, Fontanesi introduces subtle but clearly perceptible deviations, which keep the listener’s interest alive and lead to surprising shifts in content. An example is found in the bassoon Sonata, whose melodic treatment leads to a semantic ambiguity that carries us through the realms of the elegiac, the meditative and the burlesque ‒ thus exploiting the natural disposition of the bassoon to express emotional states of such a kind ‒ and that, due to the restless rhythmic figures performed by the piano, ends up in an almost metaphysical sensation of inevitability, only slightly attenuated by the unexpected conclusive diminuendo. Sometimes the significant deviations are to be found in those intrusions I mentioned above. The Diaphoniae concertanti quartet (2017) for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, which is divided into twelve short movements, is ‒ as the title itself suggests (diaphonia means just that: dissonance) ‒ focused on the dissonances generated by melodic twists, harmonic progressions and timbral combinations. Nonetheless, we are far away from the bothering cacophony associated with radical atonality; here the sonic harshness is used as a tool to introduce moments of ension while leaving room for enjoyable listening experiences, which are guaranteed by the admirable overall polyphonic architecture as well as by the intricate mosaic of variations carefully devised by the Author. The result is ‒ here as elsewhere ‒ a music which oscillates between the ancient and the modern, thus eliciting an engaging contrast between an atmosphere of familiarity and a sense of bewilderment which brings to mind some paintings belonging to the Hyper-mannerist art movement of the 80’s, better known as Anachronism.
Once again, chamber music reveals itself to be the most apt field to bring out the dialogic and intimate nature of the Italian composer’s writing. This is, indeed, the fourth recording of his works for chamber music groups, which in this case range from the short and virtuoso piece for solo clarinet (2016) to the above-mentioned wind quartet. It is in this context that David Fontanesi masterfully manages to combine formal clarity and expressive conciseness, and to mix melodic fluidity with rhythmic flexibility; these are the chief ingredients that shape his style and mark out his path ‒ a path which is well-established but still capable of future developments ‒ within the Third Way of contemporary music.
Album Notes by Filippo Focosi
ANGELO DE ANGELIS (Clarinet): He studied at Conservatorio “A. Casella” in L'Aquila. He took part in prestigious advanced courses directed by Thomas Friedli and Primo Borali. He leads an intense concert activity alongside his pedagogic career. He was awarded many soloistic and chamber music prizes including: I international competition “Città di Capri” (1987), XII international competition “Città di Stresa” (1988), IV national competition “Città di Moncalieri” (1989), national competition “ENDAS” (city of Perugia, 1992). He collaborated with prestigious orchestras such as: Orchestra Nazionale di S. Cecilia in Rome, Teatro la Fenice in Venice, Orchestra da Camera Italiana with Salvatore Accardo, Orchestra Regionale del Lazio, Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese. He has performed as a soloist under R. Muti, D. Gatti, C. Dutoit, J. Tate, G. Sinopoli, S. Accardo, D. Kitaenko, I. Karabtchevsky, A.Vedernikov, H Soudant, N. Santi, Z. Pesko, D. Renzetti, K. Ono. He is member of several chamber music ensembles. He plays Selmer Recital clarinets.
ELISEO SMORDONI (Bassoon): Born in Rome in 1961, he completed his musical studies at the Roman Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, graduating under Alfio Poleggi and winning the "ARAM Award". He played as principal bassoon in Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia, I Solisti Veneti, RAI Symphony Orchestra of Naples, San Remo Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborated with the National Orchestra of S. Cecilia where he played under L. Bernstein, L. Mazel, C. M. Giulini, G. Pretre, Z. Metha, J. Themirkanov, K. Masur, A. Pappano, I. Fischer and others. In 1990 he won the competition for the position of principal bassoon at the Orchestra of the Opera Theater of Rome where has played, among others, under Riccardo Muti. He also carries out intense activity in Italy and abroad with the Ensemble of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma with whom he played at: Concerti del Quirinale for Radio 3, IMK festival, Koblenza; Flautissimo festival, Rome. He has worked extensively abroad, specifically in Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Tunisia and Malta. Since 1998 he has collaborated and recorded with Salvatore Accardo, as a member of the Italian Chamber Orchestra. He has recorded numerous works with the Italian Radio Television and has recorded a solo album for the RCA. He has recorded for EMI Classic and Foné.
FABRIZIO DATTERI (Piano): He graduated in piano in 1991 at Istituto Musicale "L. Boccherini" of Lucca, Italy. He specialized with Pier Narciso Masi, Sergio Fiorentino, Bruno Canino and at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena with J. Achucarro and at the Saltsburg Mozarteum with Boris Bloch and Aquiles Delle Vigne. He received first prizes in numerous national and international competitions, as soloist and in chamber music. He has given recitals as soloist and with chamber music groups, playing with musicians such as Cristiano Rossi, Andrea Nannoni, Antonello Farulli, Boris Bloch, Pavel Vernikov, Philippe Cuper, Michele Marasco. He has performed in more than 400 concerts: Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall, Weiner Saal of Salzburg, Saal am Palais and Weimar Hochschule “F. Liszt”, University of San Francisco and California State University. He has recorded for Tactus and Amadeus. He has played with the following orchestras: National Rumanian Orchestra of Oradea; Opera Giocosa of Trieste Orchestra, Mussinelli of La Spezia, NOL, GAMS, I Pomeriggi Musicali, Orchestra de Etado du Mexico, Istanbul Philarmonic.
GINEVRA PETRUCCI (Flute): Praised by the Italian press as being “one of the most interesting talents of her generation”, and described as having “a beautiful phrasing, brilliant virtuosity and a legato worthy of a great singer” by The Flutist Quarterly, Ginevra Petrucci has performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls throughout Europe (Sala Accademica di Santa Cecilia, Rome; Teatro La Fenice, Venice; Salle Cortot, Paris; Liszt Academy, Budapest; Chopin Academy, Warsaw), America (Carnegie Hall, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.), Japan (Ohji Hall, Tokyo), South America and Middle East. She performs regularly with artists such as Bruno Canino, Rocco Filippini, Boris Berman, Emmanuel Ceysson, Jory Vinikour and with the ensembles I Virtuosi Italiani, I Pomeriggi Musicali, I Musici di Roma, the Kodály Quartet. Her recordings include Giulio Briccialdi’s four flute Concerti with I Virtuosi Italiani, Friedrich Kuhlau’s quintets with the Kodály Quartet, a recital CD with Bruno Canino, Dupuy and Büchner’s Concertos with I Pomeriggi Musicali. She has worked with composers Kaija Saariaho, Steve Reich, George Crumb, Betsy Jolas and Jean-Michel Damase. Born in Rome in 1989, she studied at Conservatorio ‘Santa Cecilia’ of Rome with her father, to continue her education at Ecole Normale ‘Alfred Cortot’ (Paris), at Yale University and Stony Brook University (USA).
LUCA VIGNALI (Oboe): He studied at "G.B. Martini" Conservatory in Bologna (Italy) with G. Siviero and continued his studies with Harold Gomberg and Lothar Koch. He is Principal Oboe at Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera in Rome, where he has played under world-renowned conductors. He has won several international prizes and collaborates with the most prestigious Italian orchestras and festivals. He has toured Europe, USA, Latin America and Japan in highly praised concerts. He has recorded for labels Edelweiss, Musikstrasse, Bongiovanni, EMI, Fonè, Tactus, Brilliant Classics. He edited several transcriptions for orchestra and wind ensemble of compositions of the 19th Century and he revised Corticelli's Trios for oboe, bassoon and piano with A. Specchi and P. Carlini. He regularly teaches masterclasses and since 2014 he collaborates with the Asian Youth Orchestra as oboe tutor.
MICHELANGELO CARBONARA (Piano): He graduated at Conservatory Santa Cecilia in Rome under Fausto Di Cesare’s guidance. In 1999 he was awarded Piano Specialisation Degree by the Academy of Santa Cecilia with Sergio Perticaroli. He continued his studies at Salzburg Mozarteum and at Académie Musicale de Villecroze in France. He attended masterclasses by Bruno Canino, Dominique Merlet and Gyorgy Sandor. In 2001 he was admitted to the International Piano Foundation “Theo Lieven” and the International Piano Academy Lake-Como with Martha Argerich. He had coachings with many renown pianists such as Leon Fleisher, Dimitri Bashkirov, Fou Ts'Ong, Menahem Pressler, Andreas Staier, Peter Frankl and Alicia De Larrocha. He has won 17 prizes in International piano competitions (including the Schubert International Piano Competition in Dortmund). In 2003 he gave his first performance in China, and a masterclass at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. In 2007 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall, New York and he now performs regularly in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. He recorded for Papageno, Tactus, Nascor-Ysaye Records-Harmonia Mundi, Egea, Brilliant Classics, Piano Classics. He gave chamber music masterclasses at USAC in Viterbo and piano masterclasses in Romania, China and Canada. In 2005 he was invited at the National Prize for Arts, promoted by the Italian Ministery for Culture, as testimonial for Italian music.
PAOLO CARLINI (Bassoon): After graduating at the Ferrara Conservatorio in the class of Vittorio Gavioli, Paolo Carlini pursued his studies with Marco Costantini and Klaus Thunemann. He was first bassoonist at Orchestra della Toscana since 1987 and has held this position at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Fenice in Venice, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai in Rome and Filarmonica della Scala under conductors Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Myung-Whun Chung, Esa Pekka Salonen, Eliahu Inbal, Daniel Harding, Daniele Gatti, Rafael Fruhbek de Burgos, Neville Marriner, Jeffrey Tate. He has played as soloist with conductors Hubert Soudant, Gabriele Ferro, Donato Renzetti, Marco Angius, Zsolt Hamar, Berislav Skanderovic, Marzio Conti, Marco Zuccarini, Lior Shambadal, Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists. As a chamber musician he has performed at Carnegie Hall, New York; Mozarteum, Salzburg; Auditorium of the Conservatory, Tel Aviv; Auditorio Nacional, Madrid; Concert Hall in Tokyo and Hong-Kong. Ha has always been interested in contemporary music and has worked with Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Ludovico Einaudi, Sofia Gubaidulina, Jean Francaix. Works for solo bassoon have been dedicated to him by Ennio Morricone, Luis Bacalov, Azio Corghi, Luis De Pablo, Giorgio Gaslini, Carlo Boccadoro, Carlo Galante, Marco Betta, Claudio Ambrosini, Giorgio Colombo Taccani. As a soloist he has recorded for labels Sony Classical, CPO, Chandos, Naxos, Tactus, Bongiovanni, Fonè, and his recordings are regularly broadcast by Radio France, Bayerisches Rundfunk, ORF, WDR, SWF, NDR, Radio Swiss Classic, Rai Radio 3. He is regularly invited to give master classes at Conservatoire Superieure de Lyon, New York University, Conservatorio Superior in Sevilla, Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne.