Roberto Scarcella Perino has composed four piano sonatas. Although they have some elements in common each of them has got an identity of its own. Unlike many composers of the second half of the twentieth century, Roberto views music as a communicative and theatrical art that must employ traditional classical-romantic musical forms. In this regard, the use of the sonata form (present in all initial movements), the liedform (prevalent in the intermediate pieces), the rondo or the variations is fundamental, and easily identifiable.
However, although these forms are traditional, Roberto’s ideas are always expressed in a very personal style, and the result is never banal or easily predictable.
Like Shostakovich or Prokof’ev, he uses classical forms to convey an emotional, sometimes very intimate, content.
What I always point out when I am asked to give my opinion on his music is that Roberto is not afraid of expressing feelings. I come from Liguria, where there is a common tendency to be very discreet, and for a person of my origin this is what makes him most admirable.
The First Sonata is the one I am personally most fond of, partly because I performed it several times in three different countries. The memory of Sonia Pahor, who was Roberto’s teacher and an excellent pianist, is the prevailing emotional trait in the sweet Moderato, but also in the Andante that is a real sound watercolor. The final Tarantella/Rondò reflects Roberto’s origins and his memories of Sicily, where he spent his youth.
The Second Sonata is dedicated to Patrizia di Carrobio. Its rhythmic language is almost American in the Allegro Birbante, while Quasi una romanza is the second most articulated movement you find in the four sonatas, with a stormy central part. The concluding Tema con variazioni is clear evidence of Roberto’s capability of hiding a rhythmic construction that goes progressively from a 3-bar to a 9-bar meter without detaching itself from the original theme. The 12 Variazioni su Ciuri Ciuri had already testified to Roberto’s skill in writing variations.
The Third Sonata, dedicated to Stefano Albertini, is certainly the most ambitious one. The first half, Allegro ma non troppo, is complex and contains a fugue with a decidedly jazz theme. The second movement is a veiled Valzerino that helps ease the tension. It is almost a tribute to Rota and the traditional dances on an outdoor platform. In the Vivacissimamente the pianist is confronted with a tour de force written by the composer in a virtuoso manner and with no sign of shyness. Roberto is particularly gifted in giving a leading role to the performer instead of treating him or her as a machine to produce sounds, as has all too often been the case in recent years.
The Fourth Sonata is dedicated to Brian Fahey. In my opinion this is very similar to the First Sonata: the Allegretto has a comparable structure but is shorter and more compact. The delicate Berceuse is, to quote Roberto, a Yoga class: a moment of meditation and almost a suspension of time. In the Allegro danzante dances appear again, interspersed with a “promenade” that evokes memories of Mussorgsky. These dances are not Italian but Irish, in homage to the origins of the person this piece of music was dedicated to. There is room for virtuosity but not as significantly as in the Third Sonata where it almost conjures up Listz: here it is lighter and more relaxed, and very often reminds listeners of the use of violin in Celtic music.
Metamorfosi is inspired to a Sicilian legend “Colapesce”, the story of a boy named Cola who moves into a merman to live happily into the sea.
Ninna Nanna per Giorgio is a lullaby written when Roberto’s nephew was born.
Ciuri Ciuri (in Sicilian “flowers, flowers”) may be Sicily’s most famous folk song. Here it is the theme for a parody of the music of such composers as Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt. Its virtuosic writing was a kind of spiteful salute to all the difficult measures I had to study during my years at the Conservatory.
Commissioned by Adirondack Repertory Dance Theater (ARDT), the last part of the CD is dedicated to a cycle of pieces dedicated to the summer Constellations. Each piece is a musical reading of the stars, as notes on a score.
Album Notes by Giuseppe Bruno
Giuseppe Bruno (1961) studied in Florence and Milan, graduating with honours in Piano, Composition and Conducting . Performing for several years as a pianist in many different chamber ensembles and as a brilliant soloist, Bruno has played with important orchestras in Europe and US, in a repertoire that extends from Mozart to contemporary music. He has collaborated with conductors including Alkis Baltas, Spiros Argiris, Roberto Abbado, Pasquale Valerio, Sam McClure, violinists Sashko Gawriloff, Pavel Vernikov, Lenuta Ciulei, singers Gail Gilmore, Victor von Halem, Monica Benvenuti, pianists Paolo Valcepina and Vincenzo Maxia and with the Octet of the Berlin Philharmonic. From 1987 to 1992 Bruno participated in the “Festival of Two Worlds” in Spoleto, Italy, and Charleston, South Carolina. Maestro Bruno was a prize winner at the International Piano Contest in Rome in 1991 and also in 1992 at the “Viotti” competition in Vercelli, Italy, in a duo with violinist Alberto Bologni. He has recorded for Nuova Fonit Cetra, Diapason, SAM, Bongiovanni, Ars publica, Sheva, Ars musici, OnClassical, as well as for many European broadcasters. Bruno is also a respected conductor and composer (his Prelude and fugue for violin has been recorded by Alberto Bologni for Sheva Contemporary) who recently dared to complete Schubert’s “Reliquie” Piano Sonata. He teaches at Puccini Conservatoire, La Spezia, and is Visiting Professor at Rubinstein Academy, Düsseldorf.
Roberto Scarcella Perino’s music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by excellent ensembles and soloists throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, including the Orchestra Arturo Toscanini, the Orchestra Regionale Toscana, Giuseppe Bruno and the Exclusive Saxophone Quartet. His works include four operas, 2 piano concertos, movie scores, three ballets, chamber and choral music. His first opera, A Caval Donato, commissioned and premiered by Teatro Verdi in Pisa in 1999, has been produced also at Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Messina. Mr. Scarcella Perino was chosen to write the music for Verdi, Merli and Cucù, an opera commissioned and premiered by Teatro Verdi in Busseto, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of death of Giuseppe Verdi in 2001. Blackout had its world premiere in October 2003 at the Tarrytown Music Hall in New York, and had further productions at Teatro Piccolo Regio in Turin and at Teatro Savio in Messina. His Azione in Musica for children’s chorus, Le Passioni dell’Anima, the sequel to his successful Le Passioni dell’Aria, was premiered in Italy in April 2017 and one month later in New York performed by the New York City Children’s Chorus. August 2017 saw the world premiere of his new opera Furiosus, presented by the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia in Città della Pieve (Umbria); NYU Florence at the Continuum Theater in Villa La Pietra in June 2019 had a beautiful new production of the same opera. Mr. Scarcella Perino is a Senior Lecturer at the NYU Italian Department, a Scholar in Residence at the American Institute for Verdi Studies, and the Composer in Residence at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò in New York. He has been the recipient of numerous high honors and awards, including an International Competition for Children’s Opera and the Musical Analysis International Competition N. Slonimskij. He studied with the Slovenian pianist Sonja Pahor to whom he dedicated his first Piano Sonata. He holds degrees in Piano from the Conservatory “Corelli” in Messina and in Composition from the Conservatory Martini in Bologna. He studied composition at Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome with Azio Corghi, in Milan and in Parma at Accademia Petrassi, and also Conducting at the Juilliard School of Music. He graduated from the University of Bologna with a degree in Musicology and he taught Music Analysis at the Arturo Toscanini Foundation in Parma. Every summer, Roberto teaches a course on Italian Opera at NYU in Florence.