The project “Incroci Musicali” (Musical Crossings) originates from a synergy between the Wind Quintets “Anemos”, the Italian Culture Institute of Budapest, and composers Alessio Elia, Salvatore Di Stefano and Marco Lombardi. All of these human resources, jointly, have invested their talents, energies and support in order to realize this recording. The repertoire offered here is (as the title suggests) a “crossing” of works belonging in the traditional repertoire for Wind Quintet (Farkas, Agay, Casella) with the creation of new projects by young Italian composers involved in this production (Elia, Di Stefano, Lombardi). There is a variety of musical languages, with different styles; all of them are significant in order to display an itinerary through more than fifty years of music for wind instruments. This is also the final result of an intense cooperation between the two countries of Italy and Hungary, including the choice of this “cross-cultural repertoire, the selection of a recording studio in Budapest with Hungarian sound engineers, and the cooperation, in the artistic direction of the project, between Alessio Elia and Andras Farkas (the son of Ferenc Farkas, one of the composers of the pieces recorded here). This entire ideal journey, from Rome to Budapest, has been made possible only thanks to the generosity and support of Dr Gian Luca Borghese, the Director of the Italian Culture Institute in Hungary.
Alfredo Casella: Pupazzetti op. 27
The Turin-born composer Alfredo Casella spent several years in Paris, studying and finishing his education there during the Belle Époque. He was fascinated by modernity and by the most experimental kinds of musical languages; thus he soon abandoned Gabriel Fauré’s sphere of influence (while never denying its importance), and befriended Satie and the musicians of the Group of Six. Thus, it became unavoidable for him to encounter the music and personality of Igor Stravinsky. Listening to his Pupazzetti, here performed in a transcription for wind quintet by flutist Filippo Mazzoli, Casella’s love for Stravinsky’s music and the influence it had on him become apparent. The piece, in a typically Neoclassical style, was composed by Casella during the First World War, and was conceived for the theatre of the Balli Plastici – a performance of mechanical puppets created by artist Fortunato Depero. This work was originally written for piano duet (four hands), but was transcribed by the composer himself for a large instrumental ensemble or for a chamber orchestra.
Denes Agay: Five Easy Dances
Denes Agay was born in Budapest, in a family of Jewish-Hungarian descent. Following the occupation of Hungary by the Nazi troops, and the racial laws they promulgated, Agay was forced to emigrate to the United States during the Second World War. He had studied music at the Ferenc Liszt Academy, and shortly after landing in New York he entered the world of cinema. He produced a very large number of soundtracks and film music, together with pedagogical methods for learning the piano. His Five Easy Dances for wind quintets faithfully mirror the nature of entertainment music for all kinds of audiences. Through their creative simplicity, they transmit countless feelings, raging from the tender nostalgia to the simple amusement, sometimes with a hint of sensual exoticism.
Salvatore Di Stefano: L’ancien secret des cinq
The “Ancient Secret of the Five” is a piece rooted in geometry, physics and mathematics, in their most ancient form. The knowledge of the Greek philosophers transmitted us their multifaceted vision, at the crossroad where many disciplines meet; here, an arithmetical number became harmony (music), geometry, astronomy and mathematics, in a straightforward and ideal philosophical vision, very different from Galilei’s modern science. This piece is a homage to this encounter of numbers, geometry, music and astronomy, transmitted to us through history up to the Renaissance, in a myriad disciplines. This piece, written in a single movement, is articulated in a sequence of episodes evoking the archetypal numbers one to five, preceded by a prelude, Nothing, suggesting the idea of zero through the metaphor of the absolute zero of matter. Each episode begins with the announcement of the corresponding number and develops around its own discourse.
Album notes by Salvatore Di Stefano
Ferenc Farkas: Antiche danze ungheresi
The Ancient dances by Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas are a sequence of pieces constituting a Suite in the Old Style. While each dance is perfectly self-standing, their alternation of quick and slow paces creates a successful emotional growth, culminating in the enthusiastic concluding Saltarello. Farkas’ compositional mastery allows all five wind instruments to display their technical and expressive skills. There are several instrumental versions of this piece, but doubtlessly the version for wind quintet can be counted among the best.
Alessio Elia: Nocturnal Awakened
Night spreads itself, with its own times, in three different places: the park in front of the home, the working studio, and the interior dimension of aural perception. These three spaces have each its own features, and they are offered to the listener at first in their distinctive elements, and later (mixing them in a sound texture which integrates them together) in a dimension showing their resonances and their assonances, as if wishing to reveal the mystery of their secret unity. Starting from a single sound, articulated through diverse timbral nuances, the piece unfolds in increasingly complex sections, crossed by melodic veinings, which are very simple at first, and then expand themselves in the global spectrum of the instruments’ registers, integrating various tuning systems in a compositional process called polysystemism.
The physical dimension of sound is highlighted by a particular kind of instrumentation, through complex psycho-acoustic phenomena, through which instrumentation itself becomes the generating force of unusual timbres.
Album notes by Alessio Elia
Marco Lombardi: Perpetuum Immobile
This piece is made of six independent and neatly separated movements. Each has technical and expressive features of its own. The title, Perpetuum Immobile, refers to a poem by the Hungarian poet János Pilinszky (1921-1981), which has been read in an Italian translation. Each movement is tenuously connected (without any descriptive intention) with the idea expressed in its title, and, partly, with the poem’s content. This creates a continuous movement, a kinetic energy coming back on itself again and again, in a mechanism which ultimately works for no purpose.
In the first movement, the five instruments emerge in turn from a sequence of fixed notes, constantly repeated and rigorously homorhythmic. In the last bars, the ostinato bows to gestures almost reminiscent of a Waltz. The second piece evokes the famous Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen. The famous sequence, sustained by the bassoon’s ostinato, is repeated by and divided among the instruments on different octaves, until it dives in the horn’s low register. In the third piece, an initial area of stasis is followed by an insistence on the upper layers of the flute, oboe and clarinet, in counterpoint with the interventions of bassoon and horn. The fourth piece is built on the slow and gradual thickening of sounds, up to the concluding frenzy. In the fifth piece, which is very rhythmical and nervous, as if in swing, each instrument comes to the fore in turn, like in a jazz quintet. The sixth and last piece alternates the repetition of five-note fragments with zones of absolute silence.
Album notes by Marco Lombardi
For the realization of this CD, Anemos Quintet wishes to thank all staff at Italian Cultural Institute-Budapest, especially at his director Mr. Gian Luca Borghese.
The Wind Quintet “Anemos” was founded in France in 2010, with the purpose of both performing the mainstream repertoire and of rediscovering forgotten works for this ensemble, with a particular focus on twentieth-century music. All of its members are musicians active at the forefront of European musical life; they regularly perform as soloists, in chamber music groups and in some of the most important European orchestras, including the Orchestre Nationale de l’Opéra de Paris, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Wiener Konzertverein Orchester, the Haydn Akademie, the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, the Teatro Regio di Parma, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale di Firenze, I Solisti Veneti, the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, the Nextime Ensemble, the Orchestre Colonne et Pasdelo, etc... The Anemos Quintet is mainly interested in the tradition of the historical French wind quintets, being particularly inspired by the the epoch-making Quintette à vent de Paris, whose rich library they inherited, and for which many twentieth-century composers wrote important works, which presently deserve a renewed interest. Following in their footsteps, and with a continuing attention to the new trends in classical music, The Anemos Quintet has commissioned new works to some young talented composers worldwide. Among them, are Alessio Elia, Salvatore Di Stefano, Leon Gurvitch, Patrizia Montanaro, Kathryn Potter, Stefano Franceschini, Marco Lombardi, Nigel Keay, and others. In the spring of 2017, the German publisher Impronta printed the arrangement of Alfredo Casella’s Pupazzetti, dedicated to Anemos. The Quintet had premiered the work inside the MART Museum of Rovereto, in the Fortunato Depero Hall, dedicated to the artist who had created the mechanical puppets inspiring Casella’s work. From its foundation, the ensemble has performed intensively throughout Europe, in the Castle of Tarascon (Provence), at the Gozo International Festival (Malta), at the Hotel de Gallifet in Paris and at the Concerti del Quirinale of Radio RaiTre.
Alessio Elia. Described as a unicum in the compositional landscape of our times (Il Corriere Musicale) Elia is considered one of the most original composers of the new generation. He was guest composer and researcher at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the University of Debrecen, the Zoltán Kodály Institute in Kecskemét and the Sacher Foundation in Basel. His music is regularly performed all over the world in the most important concert halls and festivals and broadcast by the most important radios and television channels. Some of his works employ the integration of different systems of tuning, a compositional concept that he called "polysystemism", presented in numerous conferences including the one at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in 2014. He received numerous awards, including the Diploma of Merit of the Chigiana Academy in Siena for the piece Luminescences in 2005, and the first prize for the orchestral piece Rejtett dimenziók (Hidden dimensions) in the UMZF 2013 international competition, in the edition dedicated to Ligeti with Péter Eötvös presiding over the jury. He received commissions most importantly from Radio Bartók (Trasparenze) written for the National Hungarian Radio Orchestra; Alter Ego ensemble (Altered memories) for a project with pieces commissioned to Eötvös, Hosokawa, Ablinger, Lukas Ligeti, Sáry and Skempton; Impronta ensemble (Traces from Nowhere) for the oggimusica Festival in Lugano; UMZE - the historic ensemble founded by Bartók (Ekpyrotic Suicide), and and I Solisti del Teatro alla Scala di Milano (Octet), piece released in CD by Warner Classics in 2018, with I Solisti della Scala conducted by Andrea Vitello and published by Universal Music Publishing - Editio Musica Budapest.
Casella, Alfredo (b Turin, 25 July 1883; d Rome, 5 March 1947): After studying with his mother, he showed precocious promise as a pianist, first playing in public in 1894. He also became intensely interested in science, and for a time wavered between two possible careers. Music prevailed and in 1896, following the advice of Martucci and Bazzini, his parents sent him to study at the Paris Conservatoire. The rich musical and cultural life of the French capital (which remained his base for the next 19 years) broadened his horizons and had a lasting influence on him. Before long the focus of his interests shifted from the piano to composing, and in 1900–01 he attended Fauré’s composition classes. His close friends at this time included Enescu and Ravel; and he developed immense enthusiasm not only for the music of Debussy but also for that of the Russian nationalists, Strauss, Mahler and in due course Bartók, Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Revolutionary trends in the visual arts (cubism, futurism, pittura metafisica) also affected him strongly and, he believed, influenced his development. His taste and culture thus became both adventurous and cosmopolitan – a tendency enhanced, after he left the Conservatoire in 1902, by travels which twice took him as far afield as Russia in 1907 and 1909.
Nevertheless, Casella gradually became aware that to fulfil himself properly he had to return to Italy, to create there ‘an art which could be not only Italian but also European in its position in the general cultural picture’ (1941). The decisive step (both for himself and for Italian music) was taken in 1915, when he became professor of piano at the Liceo di S Cecilia, Rome. At once he began to introduce the music of Ravel, Stravinsky and others to the ignorant, provincial Italian public; and by 1917 he had gathered around him a group of young composers who in varying degrees shared his views, among them G.F. Malipiero, Pizzetti, Respighi, Tommasini, Gui and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. With these companions-in-arms (some much more active than others) he founded the Società Nazionale di Musica, soon renamed the Società Italiana di Musica Moderna (SIMM). During the next two years this controversial group gave many concerts of modern music (both Italian and foreign) and published a lively, subversive magazine, Ars nova. Casella’s public appearances at this time – as composer, conductor and pianist, both in the SIMM concerts and elsewhere – provoked predictably violent protests from the public. Yet the impact of the SIMM on Italian musical life was crucial and lasting, though its activities ceased in 1919.
After the war Casella again began to travel widely, as pianist and conductor, and in 1922 he resigned his post at the Liceo (by then renamed Conservatorio) di S Cecilia. Nevertheless his fight for the modernization of Italian music continued, and in 1923 he, Malipiero and Labroca, with enthusiastic encouragement from D’Annunzio, founded the Corporazione delle Nuove Musiche (CDNM). This was a somewhat different organization from the SIMM: no longer a close collaboration of young Italian musicians seeking to establish themselves but, rather, a ‘window on the world’, aiming to bring to Italy ‘the latest expressions and the most recent researches of contemporary musical art’ (1941). In keeping with this aim the CDNM became integrated, almost at once, with the Italian section of the ISCM. It continued, however, to have some autonomy until 1928, by which time it had taken such works as Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire and Stravinsky’s Les noces on tour throughout Italy.
In the 1930s Casella became a leading light in yet another Italian modern music organization: the Venice Festival Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea, which he at first (1930–34) directed in rather uneasy collaboration with Lualdi, assisted by Labroca. Meanwhile (1932) he was put in charge of the advanced class in piano at the Accademia di S Cecilia, Rome. There can be no doubt that in these years Casella, like so many other Italians of otherwise good judgment, fell under the spell of fascism: his opera Il deserto tentato was written in praise of Mussolini’s Abyssinian campaign. But the fact that the 1937 Venice Festival, thanks entirely to Casella’s initiative, still found a place for the music of Schoenberg is itself enough to prove the absurdity of claims that he became, in later life, a stalwart of narrow Italian provincialism.
In 1939, in keeping with his growing interest in early music (which had first been kindled about 1920), Casella helped to found the Settimane Senesi at the Accademia Chigiana, Siena. Soon afterwards his life entered its tragic final phase: not only was his family’s position endangered by the fact that his wife was a Jew and a Frenchwoman, but in the summer of 1942 he suffered the first attack of the illness which was in due course to kill him. Not until 1944, however, did he cease to compose; and he remained active as a conductor until 1946 and as a piano accompanist up to three weeks before his death.
JOHN C.G. WATERHOUSE (bibliography with VIRGILIO BERNARDONI)
From The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Marco Lombardi studied at the Conservatory of Genoa. His education has been crucially determined by the courses at the Accademia Chigiana of Siena with Franco Donatoni, and by his encounters with composers Gerard Grisey and Helmut Lachenmann. His works are published by Pizzicato Verlag Helvetia and Sconfinarte Edizioni musicali. He is the prize-winner and laureate of several national and international composition competitions. His works are performed in Italy and abroad. Among his most recent commissions are those by the following symphonic institutions and concert. seasons: Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova. He is also active, both in Italy and abroad, as a speaker and presenter, particularly on topics regarding the music of the twentieth and twenty-first century. He teaches at the Conservatory “F. Cilea” of Reggio Calabria.
Salvatore Di Stefano was born in Alessandria in 1969; he studied composition with G. Donati and A. Colla, along with Physical Engineering at the Polytechnical Universities of Turin and Grenoble. He followed the courses given at the CNSM of Lyons by Antignani and Ducreux, at the Accademia Chigiana by Corghi and Bonifacio, and at the IRCAM. His works are published by Ut Orpheus and have been recorded on several CDs. His pieces are regularly performed in concerts and are commissioned by soloists, by festivals and by institutions. During his career, he has progressively developed his personal evocative aesthetics, and a personal expressive palette, combining in an increasingly tight fashion his scientific knowledge and his musical art.