Betta, Casesa, Mandina, Maniaci, Piraino, Ricotta: Riflessi Sonori – Italian Contemporary Piano Trios


  • Artist(s): Trio Arté
  • Composer(s): Alberto Maniaci, Giuseppe Ricotta, Marco Betta, Simone Piraino, Valentina Casesa, Vito Mandina
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911434
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Cello, Piano, Violin
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2020
SKU: C00314 Category:

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With this album, Trio Arté displays a new language and a new way to present chamber music, by joining the classical chamber music tradition with the proposal of new music, written specifically for this ensemble on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.
Six Sicilian composers paid homage, through their creativity, to Trio Arté, which has always lived with intensity the connection with both its Sicilian roots and its audience. Their names are by now very well-known in the national and international panorama, and include Marco Betta, Vito Mandina, Alberto Maniaci, Simone Piraino, Giuseppe Ricotta, and Valentina Casesa, who is also the pianist of the Trio arté.

Listening guide
Alberto Maniaci: Brise d’espoir
Brise d’espoir, in the tripartite A-B-A form, is a piece written drawing inspiration from an improvisation for a plié in the dancing hall. It has very descriptive features, and represents the breeze of hope which should invade the soul of every musician. Specifically, being dedicated to the Trio Arté for their tenth anniversary, it aims at wishing to this ensemble that it may continue in time, well beyond these first ten years of activity! Hope, when it is translated into the life of every artist, should also involve the interior quest for serenity, which is frequently undermined by the artists’ changeable mood. Performing together is already a therapy; in this case, it is lived by three people, with three flats in the key signature, in a tripartite form, with the union and superimposition of three atmospheres merging with each other and creating a musical “breeze” which involves the dedicatees.
The A section opens with a simple theme in 3/4, with an elegiac character which exploits the cello’s warm sound. The theme is later distributed between the violin’s and the piano’s voices; the latter, contrapuntally, sustains its outstretched sound. After a very short suspension at the tonic, the piano opens section B, the development; here the figuration, in quavers at first, is turned into semiquavers, generating a blossoming of new sounds and new harmonies with a pop/rock sound. An element by the strings is employed in order to bring the musical discourse on different stylistic planes; a whirling sequence of harmonic changes on anticipations of the beat impresses a strongly rhythmic character to this section, which markedly contrasts with the character of section A.
Section B culminates with a short 8-bar coda, which gradually leads the piano to the reprise of section A, now enriched by a garland of semiquavers entrusted to the high register of the piano. The piece’s coda puts into relief some hints of the brilliant and energetic character presented during the development; but, in this case, the intention is that of giving back serenity and quiet to the melody’s impetus.

Vito Mandina: Decathlon
Decathlon is an Olympic sport which can be likened to a series of variations on a theme. The theme, in this case, is the cryptography of the name of “Trio Arté”, following the scheme created by O. Messiaen for his Méditations sur le mystére de la Sainte Trinité, where he attributes a pitch (and a value) to every letter of the alphabet, borrowing from a centuries-old practice and modernizing it.
In my piece, the theme constituting the name “Trio Arté” is proposed by the three instruments, in alternation at first and together immediately after. Ten variations follow, each of which is composed by the cryptogram’s notes plus a variable number (two to four) of pitches excerpted from the sequence of the “Happy birthday” motif in the key of C-major, and in the same order in which they are usually sung. In the last variation, the notes of the cryptogram coexist with all the notes of the motif celebrating the Trio’s birthday, and the piano’s ten repeated chords symbolize the ensemble’s ten years.
A homage which I offer with great pleasure to the friends of the Trio Arté, with sincere admiration.

Simone Piraino: Dolcemente Insieme
It was written for my friends of Trio Arté on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of their foundation. The title summarizes, in two simple words (“sweetly, together”) the musical and poetical intentions of this work. The structural idea of an ascending scale tending to the high register, which is the poetical basis of several of my compositions, is presented – in an imaginary dialogue – at times by one, at times by another of the instruments. It aims at indicating, at an extra-musical level, the deep friendship between the three elements of the ensemble: indeed, “sweetly” and “together” they face an itinerary (the scale) tending to the improvement (thus it is ascending) on the human plane along with the musical one; and this happens within every aspect of daily and real life (symbolized by the piano’s obsessive ostinato).
The harmony is purposefully simple, and is based on the principal degrees of the F-major scale; it reflects a mystical and contemplative character, which is the founding poetic principle of all of my aesthetic attempts.

Giuseppe Ricotta: La Signora delle Camelie
La Dame aux camélias, a title excerpted from the eponymous novel by Alexandre Dumas inspiring it, narrates in music the impossible love between Marguerite Gautier, a famous courtesan ready to concede herself to anybody who could satisfy her desire for luxury, and Armand Duval, the young descendant of a wealthy family. Love’s pain and passion dance in the sweet illusion of the sumptuous appearances which the nineteenth-century Parisian aristocracy tyrannically conceded. The violin and the cello are the voices of the two lovers, chasing each other in counterpoint within the piano’s embrace, representing at times pure love, at times play, at times the transience of the flesh in a whirlwind of emotions which do not respond to the check of morals. Soon, however, the young protagonists become aware that even true love is powerless against the unavoidability of death. The time remaining to Marguerite, ill and without the money she needs to support herself, is worth living in full, within all the facets that life can offer! Our female protagonist understands this at her own expense: in order to protect her beloved Duval, she leaves him, in the paradoxical conviction that renouncing love may be her greatest act of love. Clearly, Alexandre Dumas’ novel has no happy ending, but the composer, in the last section of the piece, rewrites the novel’s ending: a new encounter is needed, in the belief that love, true love, when it is denied in the physical world will rise again in the world of the dreams, where time, space and matter cannot subjugate the spirit.

Marco Betta: Strada bianca
Strada bianca for violin, cello and piano is a tripartite Air composed for and dedicated to Trio Arté. At the beginning, a few lines of sounds gradually coalesce in a suspended itinerary, in which melodic fragments surface, reconstructed from the memory of an ancient Sicilian popular song. The instruments become voices, little by little; these are suspended songs over harmonies and chordal structures which merge together the music of the ancient Mediterranean cultures, the great classical tradition, and the music of our times.

Valentina Casesa: Ten
Ten was created for the Trio Arté, for us, for our itinerary throughout these years. We have always struggled, and continue to struggle for the realization of the highest ideal of perfection: an intense sound, capable of letting the intuition of three characters, of three timbres surface, but always understandable as a unity.
For this reason, in this piece, expressions of our temperaments emerge, along with passion, obstinacy, great ideals, the quest for a sound in a constant growth.
The work is developed through two sections: the first is characterized by the constant motions of the semiquavers entrusted to the piano and later to the strings. It underpins the constant itinerary we have walked through during these years, with contrasting and frequently contrasted movements in the difficult musical and cultural reality around us.
In spite of this, the theme expressed later in fortissimo by the three instruments together realizes that dream of chamber music consisting of dialogue and intense expressivity, highlighting the potential of the chamber music Trio, an ensemble unique in its field.
The second section, instead, evokes the picture of the presence of a deep connection with our origins; it is a leitmotiv residing, like the Etna’s magma, within the volcano, as strong as a generative bond; with great irony, it expresses one of the most significant Sicilian adages of all times: “Comu veni si cunta” (“it goes as it goes”).
We are strengthened by the feeling that our Sicilian ancestors’ wisdom filled with irony flows in our blood; thus, I wanted to insert a folk-like sounding waltz, which however alludes to the vision of great halls in the ancient palaces. They suggest to our collective imagination the times of The Leopard, with its own contradictions.
In the last section, after the climax which brings the violin to a very high register, while the piano and the cello sustain everything in a constant fortissimo, there eventually comes a return to calm, and to that originating idea that the three instruments must become one: a unique and ethereal sounds bringing peace to those who have lived this narration through listening.

All listening guides were written by the composers.


The Trio Arté was established in 2006 by musicians educated at the Conservatory “V. Bellini” of Palermo, where they completed their academic education with honours. The Trio was awarded prizes at several national and international competitions; from 2008 to 2010 they followed the courses given by the Trio di Trieste at the Accademia Chigiana of Sienna, obtaining the diploma of merit and a scholarship. The Trio followed the academic programme at the Scuola Superiore Internationale di Musica da Camera of the Trio di Trieste in Duino (TS), with Professors Renato Zanettovich, Dario De Rosa, Maureen Jones and Enrico Bronzi, distinguishing itself for its merits. The Trio has an important concert activity in Italy and abroad; among the most important concerts are those at the Amici della Musica of Palermo, at the Società dei Concerti of Trieste, at the International Festival Young Virtuosi of Ljubljana (Slovenia), at the Sala del Ridotto of the Teatro Verdi of Trieste for the Circolo della Cultura e delle Arti, and at the Sixth Festival of Young Talents in Rovigno (Croatia).
In 2011, for the concert season of the Amici della Musica of Palermo, they performed the premiere of Strada Bianca, a piece composed by Marco Betta and dedicated to the Trio Arté. In 2014 they recorded, for the label Gamma Musica, the CD Musica da camera italiana dell’800. On the occasion of the inauguration of the 2016 concert season of the Conservatory “V. Bellini” of Palermo, they played the Triple Concerto op. 56 by Beethoven at the Teatro Massimo, accompanied by the Conservatory’s Symphonic Orchestra. For the trio, a fundamental moment was the tenth anniversary of their activity; on that occasion, they performed the premieres of five works by Sicilian composers (V. Cases, V. Mandina, A. Maniaci, S. Piraino and G. Ricotta), composed for and dedicated to the Trio Arté. Following their academic studies in the chamber music repertoire, in the last years the Trio increased its cooperation with several contemporary composers, with the aim of creating new concert and discographic projects, in parallel with their activity of research and rediscovery of the lesser-known Italian chamber music repertoire.
All musicians of the Trio Arté unite their passion for the concert activity in the field of chamber music with that for teaching and the dissemination of instrumental education with a particular interest in chamber music.

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