Official Release: 21 January 2021
THE TWO CYCLES OF PRELUDES
Both cycles of Piano Preludes recorded in this album – i.e. the 9 Preludes op. 1 (2011) and the 4 Preludes op. 10 (2016) – are explicitly inspired by two composers I particularly cherish and took as reference models, while trying to update some of their traits in a personal interpretive key. They are Alexander Scriabin and Karol Szymanowski in his earliest creative stage. Globally, a dramatic and restless dimension prevails, where occasional islands of serenity are found.
9 PRELUDES op. 1 (2011)
The first Prelude op. 1 is perhaps the most iconic of the first series. It proposes a theme whose obsessive and melancholic figuration is spread over a soft carpet of quintuplets. The second is more sunny, quiet and pacified. It is characterized by a dense counterpoint generated by an intricate intertwining of triplets. The third Prelude begins as a slow Chorale, declaimed and serious. After a short and agitated central development, it flows into a passionate reprise and closes sadly as it had begun. The fourth is among the shortest. It is an agitated run, made uncertain by the staggering rhythm of the two hands, ending with an explosive finale. The fifth prelude is lyrical and nostalgic. It may recall the first, both in its character and in its obsessive repetition of the principal figuration. Here too, the reprise presents the theme enriched by octaves and triplets, until it fades down in a dark finale. The sixth, along with the fourth and ninth, is the fieriest. Its subtitle is “Etude”, due precisely to its virtuoso and technical character. Rapid figurations of thirds and the intertwining of binary and ternary rhythms follow each other throughout the piece. In the seventh, inquietude spreads through the continuing movement in triplets of the left hand, which is calmed only in the central episode. This is almost a Chorale, echoing also in the final measures, and preceded by an abrupt stop/fermata at the apex of the reprise. The eighth is a sad and desolate dialogue, whereby the two hands pass the principal theme to each other, up to a heartfelt and moving reprise, softening in a sombre finale. The ninth bears the title of “Etude: Winter Winds” due to its whirlwind style, aiming at evoking the impetus of winter winds. It is another Etude which concludes in a virtuoso and at time feverish way the entire series.
4 PRELUDES op. 10 (2016)
The first Prelude of Op. 10 sees a sorrowful theme in octaves standing over the unceasing harmonic wandering and the bright chromaticism of the left hand’s quaver quadruplets. Through an increasingly agitated development, a climax is reached; it fades down in the reprise until it disappears in the finale. The panting and suspended character of the principal theme characterizes the second Prelude, even more chromatic and changing than the first. Here too, after a virtuosic development reaching a powerful climax, the music gets back to a pacified reprise of the theme and to a sad finale. In the third, the cantabile, lyrical and declaimed theme in the right hand stands over a placid accompaniment in triplets by the left hand. In the development, chromaticism and texture thicken, leading to a climax fading out up to the more heartfelt reprise in octaves of the principal theme. Finally, the last prelude (bearing the subtitle of “Etude” as was the case with its homologue of the first series) is a breathtaking run, whereby thematic elements surface in the left hand, whilst the right hand plays quick sextuplets. Only in the finale, where the hands change roles, the theme is echoed in the right hand up to the brusque ending.
SONATA No. 1 op. 4 (2014)
The Sonata No. 1 op. 4 (2014), dedicated to my friend, the pianist and composer Roberto Piana, is the fruit of a later creative stage, where the influence of the twentieth century is clearer.
The first movement, “Ballata”, in the classical Sonata-form, is an agitated piece in 3/8, characterized by a principal theme whose rhythmical figuration is obsessively repeated here and there throughout the piece. After a climax and a virtuoso episode, the second theme enters, calmer and more serene, but still suspended in an almost unreal dimension. After a short stop/fermata , the transfigured return of the obsessive figuration introduces the central development, very restless, where the two principal themes and their secondary elements follow each other similar to tide’s rising, culminating in an energetic passage in octaves performed alternatively by both hands in a canonic form, fading progressively down up to an interlocutory stop/fermata . The reprise of the first theme is further underpinned, in a transfigured dimension, by a dark low C#, repeated bell-like, and followed by a varied version of the virtuoso episode. The return of the pacified second theme decreases the tension until its fading down in the finale.
The second movement, “Corale”, is a slow and cadenced meditation with a liturgical connotation, divided into two thematic sections: one is more chorale-like and static, the other more unstable and oscillating. A dotted figuration, similar to a bell, echoes throughout the piece. The structure is vaguely similar to an A-B-A form, but all flows from elements of the principal theme. It is a single musical discourse; at times both hands proceed in homophony and in parallel, underpinning the severity of the declamation. After a great crescendo in the central section, the principal theme and its declination return, until the gloomy finale, characterized by the return of the dotted figuration.
The third movement, “Toccata”, is the most virtuosic piece of the Sonata, in the Rondo form. The first theme, A, surfaces in the left hand under the obsessive figurations of the right hand. A run made of rapid explosions and temporary serenity follows, with a first climax. Once it has been reached, the piece’s propulsive power fades, and the second theme, B, is introduced. It is slower and calmer, made of two alternating cells: a series of arpeggiated ascending chords, followed by a short descending phrase, rippled by a quick mordent. After a short stop/fermata , the run of the first thematic element restarts, until a true explosive reprise of A, in fortissimo, is reached. After a few gushes, it tends to fade, transforming itself into the varied re-proposal of the second theme, B’ (the variation consists in the expansion in quavers of the arpeggiated chords of the first cell). At the end of the reprise of the second varied theme, the initial run follows abruptly and without stops. Through a dynamic rise and fall of pianos and fortes it leads to the last reprise of the first theme, A. At its end, after a gloomy episode with long sustained pedalling over the triplets in the extreme low register of the keyboard, there is a last explosion, leading to the last reprise of the second theme B’. This time it is transfigured in the major mode, slowing down until it disappears in two chords in the extreme areas of the keyboard, the first at the bass, and the second in the treble.
SONATA No. 2 op. 33 (2020)
Structurally simpler and shorter than the first Sonata, No. 2 op. 33 is an explicit homage (albeit only on the formal plane) to Scriabin’s Fourth Sonata. This is seen in its subdivision into two movements, the first slow and lyrical, and the second virtuosic and agitated, with a varied reprise of the principal theme of the first movement by way of conclusion, closing the Sonata passionately and with bravura.
The first movement, “Madrigale”, is a narrative piece, slow, lyrical and contrapuntal. Through typical thematic figurations, Renaissance polyphony is somewhat recalled. The principal theme alternates with an episode in the character of a joint, based on more modern harmonies, which reappears also in the concluding section of the movement. The last, interlocutory chord precedes an “attacca” indication leading directly to the second movement.
This is a bravura “Toccata”. It is the longest of the two, and it is a true virtuoso tour de force. It opens loudly in fortissimo with the first cell of the principal theme, in the style of a fanfare: a low octave followed by a quadruplet and three chords. The second cell of the first theme follows; the exposition in octaves of the right hand stands over a movement in quadruplets by the left hand, substantially characterizing the entire piece. The movement has not a true structure, but it is made by an alternation and reciprocal recalling of different episodes: one is quicker and with an unrestrained technique, another is more chordal with canonic octaves etc. They all derive or may be derived from the principal theme, in a continuing and restless flow. After a long ride, leaving few breathing points to the performer, and the last reprise of the principal theme, enriched and varied, a virtuoso reprise of the entire Madrigal follows, in a virtuoso and conclusive fashion. This consists of difficult chordal passages and of triplet arpeggios in the left hand with the theme in octaves in the right hand. A last apparition of the Toccata’s principal theme leads to a tumultuous Coda, concluding with the theme’s first cell, this time in a luminous C major.
Luca Moscardi © 2021
TANIA CARDILLO Born in Catania, Italy. At a young age, she approaches music thanks to her maternal grandmother, Maria Teresa Baldeschi, who was a student of Alfredo Casella.
Later, she studied with Alberto Maria Giambello and she graduated, followed by Stefano Mancuso, at the Sassari Conservatory. She attended master classes with internationally renowned musicians: Sergei Dorensky, Mario Delli Ponti, Angelo Persichilli and Fausto Zadra who gave a decisive imprint on her artistic growth.
She was awarded in several national and international competitions. In 2002, she received the “Accompanist special mention” at the Ibla Grand Prize Competition. She has published revisions, arrangements and a CD with the Fenilya Trio, by Edizioni Musicali Novecento. She currently performs for various European and Italian concert institutions, both in a solo and chamber role.