This album, entirely dedicated to works by Marco Sollini, follows the earlier publication of his “24 Piano Works”, issued by Da Vinci Classics (C00520). Whilst, however, the works recorded in that album had been written between 2001 and 2007, the works found in this second album date from more recent years – in particular, from the period between 2018 and 2021.
The Angel Goes Home op. 34 (2018) is a piano miniature created as a musical homage, responding to a valuable gift by the same name. This gift was a Byzantine-style icon portraying an angel, given to Marco Sollini by his Greek friend Dimitris Koliousis. This angel had been painted on purpose by the artist in his fascinating and tiny workshop in Santorini; the angel had the task of joyfully accompanying Marco to his new home, ensuring him the protection of this reassuring angel. The piece’s atmosphere is rarefied; its delicate sound evokes the idea of a poetics whereby dissonances are turned into timbral effects. This piece should be played as a prayer; somehow, it is also the composer’s musical snapshot of the enchanted atmosphere of the island of Santorini, which he cherishes deeply, as well as of his friend Dimitris’ artistry. This piece should be played without rush, with the enchantment of an intimate moment of deep concentration, favoured by the gaze of the Angel who reached his home.
Méditation à Saint François d’Assise op. 44 (2021) maintains a deep atmosphere, but, at the same time, is structured as a more imposing piece, with great expressive power. The Saint from Assisi inspires the work dedicated by Marco Sollini to the memory of his mother Lucia. Within a funeral march with a solemn and dramatic character, at the work’s heart is found a moment with intensely singing features, which abandons itself to a vibrating emotional power with touching harmonies.
For the composition of Divoc e Ned. Mélologue op. 41 (2020), a work for speaker and piano, the musician took inspiration from one of the most significant examples of this genre, i.e. Enoch Arden, a 1897 masterpiece by Richard Strauss on words by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1864). Sollini dedicates this short tale to the “medical and health personnel”, in the difficult times of the world Covid-19 pandemic.
Divoc e Ned also pays homage to the above-mentioned melodrama. It hinges on the love between the small half-blood dog Divoc and his owner, Ned. Their names do not depend on chance. Covid-19, which appeared in 2020, is a terrible virus revealing itself as a fiery beast. Its exact contrary, in all senses, is precisely the puppy by the name of Divoc. He represents love and faithfulness; in one word, the very salvation of his “human dad”, Ned, but also of a humankind which frequently drifts away, as happens to Enoch Arden’s ship during the storm. The story of Divoc and Ned is a small, sweet and poetic tale, on words by Marco Sollini himself. Through the moment’s hardships (Ned’s illness, due to Codiv-19), we observe Divoc’s faithfulness and unconditional love. There is a happy ending, when the two friends will find each other again living happily ever after. It is a small modern fairy tale grounded on great values, in spite of its extreme simplicity; it proclaims that Love conquers all. This is similar to the music accompanying it and charging it with emotion, with tragical tensions, and with intimate and poetic moments. This is a present-day homage by the composer, expressed with the creativity and fantasy of an ancient, pure and tender soul, which is aimed at.
L’Abbaye dans le boi op. 35 (2018) for four-hand piano duet is inspired by the nature surrounding the Abbey of Fiastra in the Marche, in central Italy. Imposing chords, sustained by an unceasing rhythmical element reminiscent of the pealing of bells, find a lyrical surge in the central section. It recounts with intensity and with a “liquid” sound the beauty of nature where the ancient Abbey is enclosed. Spiritual elevation is represented by a rising theme, mounting as if wishing to reach the stars; it is in dialogue with the melodic part, presented in the piano’s middle register.
The Suite for four-hand piano duet called Babies’ Corner, op. 36, was written between 2018 and 2021. It was dedicated to the writer of these notes, and it is an explicit homage to great Claude Debussy’s famous collection called Children’s Corner, even though their characteristics are decidedly different. Eight dances constitute this collection; they are all inspired, in Rossini’s fashion, to a homely atmosphere, where each character is represented in the different traits of rhythm, colour, and timbre. The first dance is Milo’s dream, a sweet and tender barcarole with a rather crepuscular tone. It is followed, with a pronounced contraposition, by Polka de Herbie. In an A-B-A form, it has a central section with disquieting and mysterious tones. The third dance is Maio’s Valzer, playing with the alternation of a lively rhythmic energy and the central section’s melodic intensity, filled with harmonic frictions and free virtuoso passages. B.J. Danza Scozzese follows, where B.J. stands for Bebo Junior; it has an ancient and rather humorous flavour. Then comes Stewe’s Fox-trot, offering, with its unrestrained cheerfulness, the typical American syncopated dance. Then comes the lullaby, in tenuous nuances, called Gas Lullaby, which finishes with the evocation of an ancient carillon. It is followed by the enigmatic Xcarbi, representing a tiny and brilliant scarab, a lucky charm; it is played on the piano’s black keys only. This piece is markedly different from all other pieces, with its faint sound which slowly develops into a shattering crescendo, realized through true clusters, and sustained through a powerful ostinato at the bass. This small journey, depicting the Sollini home, closes with an unchained and whirling mambo. Bebo’s Mambo is written in the A-B-A form, and its short central section has a more evocative and intimate flavour. The piece is written in the uncommon key of A-flat minor, and it peremptorily closes the collection. This suite for four-hand piano duet represents the composer’s interior world, with his multifaceted experiences in the musical world. It is not afraid of remaining faithful to his own language, and its red thread is sincerity of expression. His originality is founded precisely on his not needing to appear as “original” at all costs. It is a kind of modernity which looks to antiquity, with the courage of those who, as years pass by, are not afraid to turn their gaze to the past, in all meanings… history repeats itself!
Salvatore Barbatano © 2022
Marco Sollini: Italian pianist with a solid musical education was definited by Claudio Scimone “a great poet of the keyboard”. He has performed in some of the most important concert halls all over the world, as Salle Cortot of Paris, Musikverein Golden Hall of Wien, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, Smetana Hall of Prague, Main Hall of the Cairo Opera House, Mailowsky Palace and Caterina Palace of Saint Petersburg, Solti Hall of the Liszt Accademy in Budapest, Manoel Theatre of Malta, Grossesaal of Mozarteum in Salzburg and others. He performed as soloist in recital and in prestigious Orchestras, as Dohnanyi Symphonic Orchestra and MAV in Budapest, Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgard Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Serbian Radio Television Symphony Orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, Sanremo Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Metropolitana Città di Bari, I Solisti Aquilani, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Ciudad de Elche Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Cairo Symphony Orchestra, Kroatisches Kammerorchester, Euro Sinfonietta Wien, Kharkiv Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. He has a large discography with around 40 CDs devoted to the music of Bach, Kozeluch, Clementi, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Thalberg, Poulenc, Rachmaninov, Rimskij-Korsakov, Menotti, Sollini. His discography also inclused the first world of Piano Music of Leoncavallo, Puccini, Giordano, Mascagni, Bellini, Verdi, Persiani, Offenbach. His four CDs devoted to Rossini Piano Music have been definited the “reference edition” by the Rossini German Society (Deutsche Rossini Gesellschaft). He has worked as contributing editor with the Publishing house Boccaccini & Spada for the complete edition of Puccini’s, Mascagni’s, Giordano’s, Leoncavallo’s, Bellini’s piano music, and other previously unpublished chamber compositions of Rossini and Mascagni.
He plays in duo with Salvatore Barbatano and he has cooperated with several chamber ensembles and with important Artists such as Bruno Canino, Antonio Ballista, Quartetto della Scala, Simonide Braconi, Cremona Quartet, Francesco Manara, Alain Meunier, Claudio Scimone, Elena Zaniboni, Fabrizio Meloni, Maxence Larrieu, Fabio Armiliato, Ugo Pagliai, Paola Pitagora, Paola Gassman and many others. Since 2014 he has been teaching at the AFAM – Superiur Institute of Musical Studies “O. Vecchi – A. Tonelli” of Modena-Carpi.
He hold several master classes at the Arts Academy of Rome, Lima State Conservatory, Tirana Arts Academy, Winston-Salem and Davidson Colleges in USA, Izmir Conservatory, Bogotà Conservatory and Superior Royal Conservatory Reina Sofia of Madrid. He was in the jury of several piano competition, such as the “Roma” International Piano Competition, Ars Kosova Music Competition of Pristina (Kosovo), Aram Khachaturian International Competition of Yerevan, Coppa Pianisti of Osimo, Premio Internazionale Pianistico Alexander Scriabin of Grosseto, Cleveland Youth Piano Competition. He received in Campidoglio of Rome the prize “Marchigiani dell’anno 2001” for his international artistic activity.
He is president and artistic director of the “Marche Musica” Association, founder and artistic director of the international music festival “Armonie della sera”, wich has been organizing public concerts in the most evocative places in the Marche region and around all Italy.