November 2019, Live at the Auditorium Science & MusicAssociazione Il Poggio, Montecastelli Pisano, Pisa, Italy
Fifty-two years ago. on 13th February 1968. 88-year-old Ildebrando Pizzetti died. He was one of the greatest European composers of the 20th century and the most important from his home city of Parma in the last century (without mentioning the “genius loci” Giuseppe Verdi). I had the honour of meeting the Master when he was awarded the honorary citizenship of Busseto. At this time I was working on the staff of the “Verdi” gazette at the Institute of Verdi Studies where Pizzetti was honorary president. Brando, his family nickname, paid us a visit in our two small rooms at the college. Mario Medici, the founder-director, introduced me to this small precise man. He seemed extremely fragile but still powerful. I told him that I possessed some of his signed musical and literary works which the Parma and Santa Cecilia Music College Violinist Mario Corti, my father Ermanno’s teacher, had left me with fatherly kindness. Corti who came from the same area was slightly younger than Pizzetti. He was a colleague at the Parma and Santa Cecilia music colleges and also his qualified performer. Unfortunately Pizzetti was tired, he had difficulty focusing through his thick glasses and did not seem to give much importance to my information. The next day at Busseto during an executive meeting in the boardroom of the institute the elderly Ildebrando was gay and lively. He spoke about Verdi, Parma, Busseto and the newly founded Verdi institute. He was wearing a classic velvet jacket and kept his right arm by his side. This reminded me of some photos of his great friend Gabriele D’Annunzio. Pizzetti attracted also the younger members with his frank and simple attitude. His kind and gay expression and his friendly nature underlined his morality; his music was straightforward without deviations, devote and with bright intelligence. Afterwards I sent him his signed “Poema Emiliano” unfinished which he no-longer possessed. This work of 1913 was for violin and orchestra, with description titles: Nel bosco di Nebbiara (In the Nebbiara woods), Sole di mezzogiorno (mid-day sun) Nel giardino delle gardenie (in the gardenia garden), Inno alla terra (hymn to Earth)….Un saluto alla regione-madre (greeting to the homeland), “and the sweet solemn plains of my native Emilia that have spoken to me many times and to anybody who is able to understand from the tops of her trees moving in the wind to her buttercup meadows.” He returned the work with a photo and a thank-you for preserving it in a jealous loving way. (his writing was shaky, this was 1967). Among his papers I also found a signed article in the form of a letter, Dear Carmine Music College published in “Giallo e Blu” a Parma strenna of 1950. The title had been slightly modified. “Carmine” was changed to “of Carmine”. Few people know that our music college is in an ex-carmelite monastery. A kind recognition from the elderly ex-student.I am not writing today to speak of myself as an ex-student of Parma music college. My father used to say Carmine School and I have always used and will continue to use its original name. I am writing to thank the music college where I studied for five years and to remember those teachers who are present in my heart and mind and who gave me most of my knowledge. And I mention the teachers appreciating “their humble but passionate love” of music, shared by musicians and fans alike. There is a particular mention of the Director Giovanni Tebaldini who tried to introduce gregorian chants and the Florentine singing-acting renaissance polyphony into the official syllabus. A diatonic harmony with archaic resonance using antique “modality”. Towards the end of October 1900 Tebaldini took the college on a visit to Sant’Agata. Thanks to his introduction the young Brando wrote an article for the Milan musical gazette: The master moved magnificently, with wonderful simple movements. I cannot say what I felt at that moment; I wanted to cry, to shout out a hymn of admiration with all my strength. I will never forget those few moments, even if I live to be one hundred.
He was there serene and solemn a few steps away. He was a biblical figure, magnificent, a dream. So Verdi appeared to Ildebrando from Parma (D’Annunzio named him so) as an icon. Pizzetti continued later with some variations in some places with increasing elaborations. But it is the first revelation that holds the magic which from the fame of his works presents Verdi the man, even to those who were not able to appreciate the complete value of the musician-dramatist. Suggestion of a myth which began about 50 years before when Pizzetti accepted to become honorary president of the Verdi Institute. He made a memorable confession: “I am not and I do not presume to be a historian or a critic. I am only an elderly musician who has always loved Verdi and his works”. A union of craft and fraternity visible in the two components of dramatic art that nourish true musicality: declamation (the word that gives its name) and the melody (which enhances the senses to sublimation). The composer does not always recognize them at the moment of composition, which requires maximum honesty. Pizzetti endeavoured to have them, he never considered that musical invention was pure entertainment and so he held the sound in maximum respect also in his research for structural and harmonious variations. His love for Verdi certainly led him to study the meaning that “numen” assigns to the declamation-chant melody. This is particularly noticeable in Otello. where memorable moments such as “Dio mi potevi scagliar” and “Ave Maria” are found : the lyrical song takes flight rising up the steps of the declamation sculptured by the genius on a barely perceptible instrumental backdrop, the Aria is modelled on the copy of the previous “parlato”. The 1919 Sonata in la is the fundamental chapter of Pezzetti’s production. The 1915-1918 First World War with its terrible mourning and devastation is brought to Italian memory in an ideal theatre. The scene is emotional and heart-throbbing.
The two instruments and the voices of the confrontation of the characters:the piano is almost arrogant in its peremptory insistence, sometimes rejecting sometimes encouraging the message of the violin which denounces its sufferance: an undeserved sentence which is alternatively contested by sweetness and resigned indignance.The musicians have accentuated the rhapsodical character of the sonata (an opinion shared by Quirino Principe), offering a realization which poetically convinces the listener, The first movement is inspired by the drama of the battle by the dark and tense colours, the central movement is dedicated to the memory of the victims (prayer for the innocent), where the initial theme, like a chorus, executed by the piano is followed by the violin with expressive momentum (well supported with intense fervor) which could entitle the complete work; the final movement liberates the joy for the end of the war: a succession of celebrations inspired by popular dances and songs. In “Tre Canti” of 1924 improvisations of flight are added to the Aria of 1906 dedicated to Mario Corti. Ideal samples of the elegance and good taste of a gracious and courteous master (where there are also sudden fiery craters). The long preparation which in the instrumental genre is not heavy for the listener but enters with freshness. The first part is amusing, it includes a couple of “hiccoughs” (the Ars Antiqua’s “hoquetus”) a breathtaking erudite device to explain that it is possible to jest even when we are not pretending. I feel as if I am in the classroom experimenting puzzles: counterpoints and free crossings generated by the majesty of the rules and tempered by the polymodal harmonies. The next passage shows that the time for serious fun is over and that we have to take up the responsibilities that follow being a student. Somebody will ask where this comes from, music does not provide explanatory manuals: it is self explanatory, also this time. The second part with its linear performance “almost grave and morbid” will lead to the passionate tension of the third part, recuperating largely from various sources from renaissance songs to old America, and storms and orations by troubled souls; on the whole I would have considered it as a dress rehearsal of the Sonata if it had not already been written. An apprenticeship for whoever begins the climb but does not know which illusions, delusions, victories and defeats await but has the courage to look towards the future. In the air there is the scent of lilies and incense and the harmonious Respighi-like sound of the organ.
Liner notes by Gustavo Marchesi
Translated by Ginnie Adams
Federico Rovini: As a Soloist and a Chamber musician, has played as a guest for the most important musical associations and institutions in Italy, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Austria, China, Nederland, USA for very important Institutions as Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Grand National Theatre in Beijing, Conservatory of Amsterdam, Real Conservatory of Copenhagen. His repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary music. He has collaborated with different musicians and singers, among them, the cellists Luca Simoncini e Andrea Nannoni, the clarinetists Carlo Franceschi and Karl Leister, the violinists Ruggero Marchesi and Domenico Pierini, the accordeonist Endrio Luti. He has performed with “Solisti Fiorentini” and “Cameristi del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino” under important conductors such as Leone Magiera, Alessandro Pinzauti and Zubin Mehta. As a soloist he has performed also with several orchestras as the Moldavian National, the Philarmonic of Clos, La Spezia Conservatory Orchestra, Grosseto City Orchestra, The Symphonic Orchestra in Val d’Aosta, Wienerkammersymphonie, High-Austria Orchestra, San Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, performing concerts for piano and orchestra by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Schumann. In addition to his performances as a concert pianist he has dedicated his time to teaching. He taught in Teramo, Sassari and Cagliari Conservatories and now he is teaching at the La Spezia Conservatory where he has held the role of Vice Director since 2004 academic year and now he is the Director of it from November 2014. He has attended several conferences, concert-lessons, masterclasses, seminars in Italy, Denmark, Spain, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, USA, China. He has made recordings for Italian, Austrian and Russian TV and is frequently broadcasted by the Tuscany Classic Radio and other specialized cultural broadcasting stations. Since 1984 he holds the position of consultant and artistic director in some festivals in Tuscany. He is often invited to take part in judging commissions of important national and international piano competitions.
Ruggero Marchesi: Born into a family of musicians in Parma in 1964, Ruggero Marchesi took his diploma in 1982 under the guidance of Giovanni Bozzini. He attended finishing courses with Dora Schwartzberg, Norbert Brainin and Franco Gulli and has given numerous concerts, warmly received, in Italy (Milan, Turin, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Verona, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Piacenza, Matera, Catania, Terni, Potenza, Urbino) and abroad (Athens, Belgrade, Bucharest, Brussels, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Berne, Salonika, Stockholm, Helsinki, Lugano).
He is the founder and first solo violin of the ensemble “La Camerata Ducale di Parma”, with which he has appeared in a number of chamber groups.
He has appeared as conductor and soloist with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo, the Orchestra Sinfonica della Provincia di Matera and the Orchestra Camerata dei Laghi.
He has recorded compact discs for Mediterraneo, Symphonia, Phoenix, Sheva Collection, Da Vinci with music by Paganini, Verdi, Brahms, Franck, Bazzini, Wieniawski, Respighi, Pizzetti, Bloch, Bach, Corelli, Vivaldi, Brescianello, Mozart, A.Rolla, Medici, Ghedini, Margola, Lupi, Bettinelli.
He has collaborated with major chamber and symphony orchestras such as I Solisti Italiani, Icarus Ensemble, La Piccola Sinfonica di Milano, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, Orchestra Filarmonica “Toscanini”, and the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma, Orchestra F.O.I. "Bruno Bartoletti".
He is professor of violin at the "A. Boito" Musical Conservatoire of Parma.
Ildebrando Pizzetti (b Parma, 20 Sept 1880; d Rome, 13 Feb 1968). Italian composer, conductor and critic. He was the most respected and influential of the more conservative Italian musicians of his generation.