Riccardo Zandonai, Jan Novák and Rovereto
Two chamber works by two composers who linked their names to Rovereto are recorded here for the first time.
Zandonai was born in Rovereto, where he received his early education and developed relationships that helped his studies and career. He regularly returned to his hometown, where he found in his family and friendships, in the nature surrounding Rovereto, new energies and inspiration.
Novák arrived in Rovereto in mature age as a political exile. In only a few years, he developed a connection with the town and its people that granted him significant relationships and lasting memories.
(Sacco di Rovereto, 1883 – Trebbiantico, 1944)
Born in a village overlooking the Adige river and rich in economical and cultural traditions, Riccardo Zandonai early revealed a pronounced musical vocation. After a few years spent studying in Rovereto with Vincenzo Gianferrari, he enrolled at the musical Liceo of Pesaro (under the direction of Pietro Mascagni). In Pesaro he completed in three years the ten-year program in composition. His keen interest for the vocal repertoire led him to compose one hundred chamber songs, mostly written in his early years. His international reputation is mainly tied to his operas, especially Francesca da Rimini on a libretto from Gabriele D’Annunzio’s homonymous tragedy. Other works still well known nowadays are Conchita, Giulietta e Romeo, I Cavalieri di Ekebù. Avoiding a radical break with the Italian tradition, he pursued a personal style with innovative harmonies, which shows extraordinary skills in orchestration. These features can also be found in his symphonic works, like Primavera in Val di Sole, and even in chamber pieces as the Suite here recorded.
Fra i monti/In the mountains. Suite for piano and winds
Fra i monti is one of several instrumental works inspired by the natural surroundings of Zandonai’s birthplace. Mountains always had for Zandonai a special spiritual dimension. In an autobiographical page he wrote: «I adore the mountain. Sacco di Rovereto, my home, is a mountain village. From the valley where it had the whim of living, the bell tower rises as high as possible, as if to spy to the Verona plain and beyond the mountains of Trento, listening to the murmuring of the Adige going ‘in search of villages and cities’. And the noise of the winds that blow with impetuous gales tells wild stories of the mountains: swearing in German in winter and singing in Italian in spring».
The date at the end of Fra i monti is May 1902. The author was 19 years old and had graduated with full marks only some months before.
The verses added to the score are a clear sign of his longing for home: “Amore di terra lontana, / Per voi tutto il cuore mi duol” (“Love for distant homeland, / for you the whole heart pains me”), from the poem Jaufré Rudel by Giosuè Carducci.
The Suite is composed in four movements: I. Canzone (Andante mosso) starts tentatively with mysterious fifths upwards and then alternate, unsettling, quivering passages where brightness and darkness seem to fight each other. The II. Notturno (Adagio) is a very slow movement reminiscent of a funeral march and characterized by popular elements and mournful colours. Without a signed Tempo, the III. Mazurka is the liveliest page: naive rhythms, short repeated motifs, some witty passages build a playful page. The Suite ends with a Serenata (Andantino mosso): an ambiguous movement in three parts starting with ingenuous, nearly comic effects and incorporating a passionate central section.
Zandonai also intended this Suite as a symphonic piece, as it is testified by some traces of instrumentation with strings.
Fra i monti was premiered on November 14th 2021 within the concert cycle Mart Music organised by the Centro Internazionale di Studi „Riccardo Zandonai“ and Associazione Filarmonica di Rovereto.
(Nová Řiše, 1921 – Neu Ulm, 1984)
Jan Novák is considered one of the most important Czech composers of the 20th century. His works follow in the great tradition of Bohemian music from Smetana to Martinů, who was his teacher in the USA, after his studies in Brno and Prague.
He worked in Brno until his liberal ideas had him expelled from the Union of Czechoslovak Composers. After the Soviet invasion (1968) he left with his family and lived in exile in Denmark and in Italy. Asked for a new composition for the local contemporary music festival (Settimane Musicali), he came to Rovereto where he found a welcoming environment. Here he lived several years (1970-1977) composing, teaching at the Civica Scuola Musicale, conducting his choir „Voces Latinae“. A lover of Latin language and poetry, he could converse in Latin with his friends and pupils before learning Italian. Many of his works are based on Latin texts written by himself. After spending his last years in Germany, he was buried in Rovereto, where his memory has been since cherished with concerts and special projects.
Excellent pianist, he performed in duo with his wife Eliška Nováková. His catalogue includes dramatic works (ballets, sacred music), a great vocal production, orchestral and chamber pieces and a great number of film music scores.
Balletti à 9
«Novák’s talent was established beyond dispute by his composition for nonet, entitled Balletti à 9, in which he again demonstrated his sense for rhythm and for timbre combinations, timbre being treated as an essential element of the music. The composition, which brought a new dimension and a folklike tunefulness to what were essentially dance forms, preserved, like all Novák’s works of the period, a basically tonal character» (Alena Němcová).
This work is a clear demonstration of Novák’s style: a variety of rhythms, elegant phrases, and popular accents are framed in a clear, sharp form. Syncopated and ostinato patterns in joyful counterpoint are the main features of the first movement, Allegro molto; a Moderato follows with fleeing and seemingly endless melodies played by the woodwinds. A hectic conclusion leads to the Lento where the rhythmic ostinato of the double bass (later the bassoon) is the basis for multiple melodic lines, fluently intertwined and giving way, at times, to solo fragments. The final Vivo starts with a wavy movement of the strings where the main theme emerges with an unmistakable folksy accent, popular but elegant, dancing and lightweight but with a steady core.
For the political context in which Novák composed this work, we give the floor to his daughter Dora: «Balletti à 9 is one of Jan Novák’s early compositions, commissioned in 1955 by the Czech Nonet and premiered a year later at the Prague Spring Festival. Despite the political circumstances in former Czechoslovakia at that time and the pressures of the communist regime, Balletti à 9 reflects Jan Novák’s indomitably playful spirit. His interest in the wide spectrum of all styles of music was a thorn in the eye for the official authorities, accusing his compositions of ‘jazzistic monstrosities’ and other musical ‘crimes’ influenced by the Western world. The four movements of Balletti dance in the joy of nature and spring, Novák’s favorite season. His mastery of orchestration, rhythmical exuberance and eloquence of melodic lines are always contained in a clear formal design, thus making his musical language accessible to a large audience» (Dora Novák-Wilmington).
Andrea Ferrario: After finishing his studies at the Como Conservatory of Music in the class of Francesco Diodovich, was awarded a scholarship to study in the guitar class of Lorenzo Micheli at the Istituto Musicale Pareggiato of Aosta. Here he earned his biennial degree (comparable to a U.S. master’s degree) summa cum laude, with highest marks, and an honorary mention. In the following two years he continued his studies with Micheli, earning his Artist Diploma. He has also studied with Giulio Tampalini, Matteo Mela, Angelo Gilardino, Frédéric Zigante, Edoardo Catemario, Andrew Zohn, and Jeffrey McFadden. In 2018 he obtained with full marks the II level Master in Parma Conservatory, course that allowed him to study with some of the most important musicians in the world (Oscar Ghiglia, Massimo Felici, Zoran Dukic and Giampaolo Bandini among others). Winner of the first prize at the G. Rospigliosi International Competition and at the European Music Competition fo Moncalieri, he received other important acknowledgements from the Riviera Etrusca (first prize ex aequo), Piove di Sacco, Città di Lissone, Atella Classica, Luigi Nono, and the Selezione Internazionale della Valle d'Ossola competitions as well. Also selected to participate in the final stages of the Biasini International Guitar Competition, in 2016 he performed at the Conservatory of San Francisco. He has held numerous concerts for important institutions, including the Teatro Manzoni of Pistoia, the Festival Mediterraneo della Chitarra of Cervo, the Festival Marlèn of Naples, the Associazione Carducci of Como, the Festival Chitarristico Internazionale of Menaggio, the Paganini Festival in Parma and the Rassegne chitarristiche of Malcantone. He was invited as a soloist by several orchestras (Valle d'Aosta Symphony Orchestra, Ars Cantus Orchestra, Parma Conservatory Orchestra) performing the concert of H. Villa-Lobos, the Concierto d'Aranjuez by J. Rodrigo and the Serenade by M. Arnold. For a few years, he has been part of a well-received duo with pianist Elena Napoleone, with whom he is committed to the discovery and appreciation of original works for this formation. With this line-up he won the first prize at the IMKA Chamber Music Competition in Sarajevo in 2017 and still carries on a profitable artistic activity: in 2015 they published the Sonatas in C for guitar and piano by Ferdinand Rebay revised for duo for the Canadian publisher Les Productions D'Oz, in 2018 was released their debut album for Dot Guitar and they performed in numerous concerts for important seasons (Jeudi du Conservatoire, ClassicA Torgnon, Concerti del Tempietto in Rome and Museo del Novecento in Milan). He plays a guitar made by luthier Fabio Schmidt.
Angelica Gasperetti undertook her musical studies with M. Rizzoli at the Conservatory of Trento where she is currently attending her Master’s degree. Since 2017 she collaborates with Associazione Filarmonica di Rovereto and, in 2021, she won the audition at the Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza. She collaborates with several Italian orchestras (Orchestra Haydn di Trento e Bolzano, Teatro La Fenice di Venezia and Orchestra Regionale Toscana).
Anna Boschi studied with L. Comandella at the Jan Novák Music School and obtained her degree at the Conservatory of Trento, under the guidance of E. Galante in 2008. She continued her Master studies at the Istituto O. Vecchi in Modena with M. Marasco, G. Betti and A. Oliva, with whom she also studied at the Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Calogero Di Liberto
Grand prize winner of the Chopin International Piano Competition in Corpus Christi, USA, of the Internationalen Sommerakademie Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and of the Concurso International Compositores de Espana in Madrid, Spain, Italian concert pianist Calogero Di Liberto continues to win praise for his warm musicianship, technical prowess at the piano and wide range of repertoire.
Calogero Di Liberto’s career has taken him across Europe, throughout the United States, and in Asia. He has given recitals at Carnegie Hall, Columbia University in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Shepherd School of Music in Houston, the Grosser Saal, Wiener Saal, and Solitär of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Music Conservatory in Ciudad Real, Spain, the Bocconi University in Milan, the Teatro Politeama in Palermo, Italy, and in the following theaters in China: Gengsu Theatre in Nantong, Broadcasting & TV Center Studio Theatre in Fuzhou, Hundred Flowers Theater in Wuhu, Poly Theatre in Ma’anshan, Anhui Theatre in Hefei, Friendship Theater in Guangzhou, Xingyan Theater in Zhaoqing, Poly Theater in Shenzhen, Haikou Great Hall of People, Nanjing Arts Institute Concert Hall, Yangzhou Concert Hall, Zhenjiang Nanshan Theatre, Nanning Theatre, Jinchang Workers Cultural Palace, and Dingxi City Hall Auditorium.
In the USA he has been guest of the TCU Cliburn Institute in Fort Worth, the Chopin Society of Texas in Corpus Christi, and the Woodlands Symphony Orchestra. Other international appearances include the Fundacion Juan March and the Juventudes Musicales in Spain, Kawai and the Mosel Festwochen in Germany, television in Slovenia, Festival International Echternach in Luxembourg, Festival of St. Prex, Switzerland, Joseph Haydn Konservatorium in Eisenstadt, Austria, Music Akademy Ignacy Jan Paderewski of Poznań, Poland, and the Jiangsu International Piano Master Music Festival of Nanjing, China.
In his native Italy Mr. Di Liberto has appeared at the Amici della Musica in Modica, Associazione Musicale Ernico-Simbruina in Frosinone, the Liszt Institute in Bologna, Associazione Ester Mazzoleni in Palermo, Festival Pianistico di Roma, International Chamber Music Festival "Suoni delle Madonie", Associazione Mozart Italia in Rovereto, Bologna Festival, Mantua Chamber Music Festival, and the Amici della Musica in Montegranaro.
The American composer Karim Al-Zand wrote Pattern Preludes and Tarantella for Di Liberto. On July 2014 Albany Records released a CD with Lieder composed on lyrics by Rabinandranath Tagore, where Mr. Di Liberto collaborated with mezzo-soprano Aidan Soder and baritone Paul Bausselberg.
Very active in chamber music, he has performed with bass Simone Alaimo, tenor Fabio Armiliato, baritones Roberto Servile and Leo Nucci, mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, violinist Cristiano Rossi, and cellists Christoph Henkel and Gautier Capuçon.
Mr. Di Liberto was born in Agrigento, Italy. He started his studies under the guidance of Giulio Arena in Palermo and continued with Bruno Canino in Milan. In 1999 he completed the Master of Music in Piano at the Rotterdam Conservatory (Holland) with Aquiles Delle Vigne. In 2002 he pursued the Artist Diploma at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth (USA) where he studied with Tamas Ungar and Harold Martina.
In 2006 Mr. Di Liberto earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance at Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, in Houston (USA) with Jon Kimura Parker.
Fabio Righetti graduated at the Conservatory of Bolzano and Scuola APM Saluzzo; then he studied with M. Denis (France) and with M. Bourgue (Switzerland). Former 1st Oboe at the Sinfonietta de Lausanne and English Horn at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, since 2000 he’s English Horn and 2nd Oboe at the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento.
He’s active in chamber music with quintets, sextets and with harp and oboe duets.
Francesco Fontolan collaborates with several orchestras (Solisti Veneti, Padua and Veneto Orchestra, Virtuosi Italiani, Teatro La Fenice, Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan, Harmonia Veneta) performing at major venues in Italy and abroad (including Salzburg Festival, Dublin, Oremburg). He has recorded several CDs with internationally renowned soloists and conductors for labels such as RCA, Erato, Deutsche Grammophon and Warner Classic.
Giovanni Costantini is a conductor and a cultural designer with a talent for communicating with audiences. Graduated in cello and in conducting, he conducts the Orchestra Regionale Filarmonia Veneta and the Alpe Adria Youth Orchestra; he has directed premieres by P. Valtinoni, J. Novák, P. Onetto and performed as a conductor at the 79° Venice Biennale Film Festival.
Jessica Dalsant graduated in flute at the Conservatory of Trento and in Clinical Psychology at the University of Padova; awarded at the Genève Competition 2001, she was former solo flute at São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. She collaborates as Principal with Camerata Salzburg, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Firenze), Teatro La Fenice (Venezia) and is flute teacher at the Conservatory of Gallarate.
Klaus Manfrini studied viola with B. Giuranna (Accademia Stauffer di Cremona) and string quartet with M. Skampa (Scuola di Musica di Fiesole). Since 1997, he teaches viola and chamber music and since 2000 he’s a member of the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova. He plays regularly with QuartettOCMantova and since 2017 he’s artistic director of the Associazione Filarmonica di Rovereto.
Lorenza Baldo performs as a soloist and in chamber ensembles in many renowned venues, amongst them: Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Zaryadye Grand Hall (Moscow), Art Center Concert Hall (Seoul). She performed with eminent artists such as: B. Giuranna, F. Petracchi, G. Gnocchi, F. Gamba, Th. Demenga. She collaborates with several orchestras and is first cello at the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra.
Marco Bruschetti graduated in clarinet at the Conservatory of Trento. Awarded in national competitions, first clarinet of the Orchestra of the Accademia Filarmonica Trentina, he collaborates with the Haydn Orchestra, Complesso Corelli, Ensemble Zandonai. He is teacher and director of the Jan Novák Music School, Trentino.
Paolo Vivaldelli graduated in oboe at the Conservatory of Bologna. He collaborates with orchestras such as: OTO, Regionale Veneta, Virtuosi Italiani, Settenovecento, Orchestra delle Alpi, Filarmonica di Modena, OSCOM, La Filharmonie. Contributor to M. Marasco, in 2022 he founded the Quintetto Fedro, ensemble in residence at the Ticino Music Festival.
Stefano Rossi brilliantly graduated in horn at the age of sixteen with J. Sedlak (Conservatory of Trento). Then he honed his skills with G. Corti, G. Nalli, M. Thompson and F. R. Wekre, combining his musical activities with university studies in statistics. He collaborates with Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento, I Pomeriggi Musicali of Milan, Orchestra of the Ente Lirico Arena di Verona, Artists of Teatro alla Scala. He has recorded for Naxos, Velut Luna and Arts.
Czech composer. His musical talent was evident from childhood in his abilities in violin and piano studies, and later in his attempts at composition during his school years. After completing a classical education in Brno, he entered the Brno Conservatory in 1940 and joined Petrželka’s composition class, having previously taken a brief course with Theodor Schaefer. Forced to interrupt his conservatory studies for two and a half years during the Nazi occupation, Novák completed his course only in 1946, submitting a string quartet and the Taneční suita (‘Dance Suite’) for orchestra. He then studied briefly with Bořkovec at the Prague Academy (AMU) and in 1947 left for the USA on a study trip financed by a Ježek Foundation scholarship that he won for his Serenade for small orchestra. He completed a summer course with Copland in Tanglewood and for five months studied with Martinů in New York. On 25 February 1948, the date of the communist takeover in former Czechoslovakia, Novák returned home and settled in Brno, where he would earn his living from composition. In 1963 he was one of the founders of ‘Toůrčí skupina A’ (Creative Group A) or ‘Parasiti Apollonis’, which brought together Brno theoreticians and composers united by a common view of the role of contemporary music and an interest in new compositional techniques. His liberal views and uncompromising attitude, however, brought him into conflict with the communist authorities; he was discriminated against in a number of ways and in 1961 he was expelled from the Union of Czechoslovak Composers. It was partly this that made him leave Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion of 1968. With his family he lived in exile in Denmark, in Italy (1970–77) and finally in the Federal German Republic. He is buried in Rovereto, Italy.
Riccardo Zandonai (b Sacco di Rovereto, Trentino, 30 May 1883; d Pesaro, 5 June 1944). Italian composer. He studied at Rovereto, and with Mascagni at the Liceo Musicale, Pesaro (1898–1901). In 1907 Boito introduced him to Giulio Ricordi, who launched him as an opera composer: after the success of Il grillo del focolare the Ricordis regarded him as Puccini’s natural successor, and even sent him to Spain to ‘collect material’ for Conchita. After a troubled period during World War I, when the Austrian government condemned him for his irredentist activities, Zandonai married the singer Tarquinia Tarquini and settled in Pesaro, where he directed the Conservatory (formerly the Liceo Musicale), 1940–43. Between the wars he was widely active as a conductor.
Although an uneven, often rather superficial composer, Zandonai was the most important of those Italians of his generation who, unlike Pizzetti, Malipiero and even Alfano, remained content to modify rather than reject the operatic tradition of Mascagni and Puccini. Not that he was ever a mere imitator of these older composers: even in the unpretentious, homely II grillo del focolare the orchestral part is more ‘symphonically’ conceived than in most Mascagni, though neither here nor in his later operas could Zandonai match his teacher’s melodic spontaneity. In Conchita the true nature of his talent was becoming clear: the piquant harmonies and colourful orchestration, with judicious borrowings from Strauss and Debussy comparable with those in La fanciulla del West, seemed bold to Italian audiences of the time; yet the result is an eclectic amalgam, whose greatest virtue is its strong sense of atmosphere and the picturesque, with many Spanish touches. The prelude and ensuing ‘Notte a Siviglia’ that open Act 3 are especially effective, and there is abundant vitality in the ensemble scenes, notably the first scene of all. By comparison, the more passionate music can seem self-conscious and overemphatic, though the Carmen-like heroine is forcefully portrayed.
Similar qualities and defects recur in Francesca da Rimini, which has had many productions internationally and remains Zandonai’s most popular work in Italy. In parts of Acts 1 and 3 (especially those dominated by female voices) his flair for the colourful and decorative is seen at its very best, clearly stimulated by the rich imagery of D’Annunzio’s words. Archaic, modal outlines are backed up by ‘antique’ touches of instrumentation (including a lute), the results having at times an unforgettable radiance and charm, as in the beautiful ensemble sung by Francesca and off-stage female chorus at her first entry. But just as D’Annunzio’s opulent poetry of the senses went hand in hand with something more barbarous and sinister, so Zandonai also indulged, especially in the Act 2 battle scene, in orgies of crude orchestral rhetoric. Moreover, in the more dramatic solo music, even more than in the comparable parts of Conchita, he too often seems to have been affecting more emotion than he felt.
Zandonai’s postwar operas on the whole show little fundamental advance on Francesca, despite incidental new departures: Giulietta e Romeo is an especially direct, though inferior, successor to the earlier work. In I cavalieri di Ekebù, however, the strange libretto served both as a safeguard against the worst sort of rhetoric and as an intermittent stimulus to break new ground: the ‘theatre band’ music in Act 2 even introduces stark parallel minor 2nds, minor 9ths etc. comparable with those in Puccini’s Turandot. Such harmonic explorations were not developed further in Zandonai’s last operas, which show signs, rather, of a return to simplicity: Giuliano, with its Oedipus-like plot and its ‘mystical’ prologue and epilogue, adapts the manner of Francesca in more subdued and contemplative terms; while La farsa amorosa attempts, not altogether convincingly, to revive something of the spirit (rather than the letter) of opera buffa.
Zandonai’s instrumental music, which has usually had less than its due share of attention, includes several works inspired by his native Trentino. In descriptive pieces like these his picturesque sense could achieve a purer expression than is usually possible in a dramatic context, though the variegated orchestration cannot disguise the slenderness of some of the ideas. However, the Concerto andaluso, whose quasi-Spanish material is presented in neatly neo-Scarlattian terms (enhanced by a prominent harpsichord in the small orchestra), has abundant melodic life: this is probably Zandonai’s best instrumental composition, embodying in a light, compact form the neo-classical spirit evident in La farsa amorosa.