Now and Then: MADERNA Transcriptions BERIO Chemins V
Its title may evoke that of an album by The Carpenters in their heyday but this disc offers a welcome sidelight on musical polymath Bruno Maderna (1920 73). A conductor of the front rank, his commitment to Italian music of the Renaissance and Baroque was unstinting. Most of these arrangements date from the early 1950s, opening with the Tre Pezzi as derived from keyboard pieces by Frescobaldi and in which Maderna’s objective interventionism is evident in the Webern-like clarity of its interplay between highly differentiated instrumental groups.
Such textural stratification is pursued even more intently in La Bassadonna, where Legrenzi’s graceful original gets a vibrant makeover with wind and strings combining only in the final section. Galant and animated, those regional dance traits which inform Viadana’s pieces are accentuated in La Sinfonie into vivid yet affectionate character studies, while the Palestrina-Konzert (though drawing on Byrd) which the diplomat and sometime composer Wassenaer published as by Ricciotti, and which was long attributed to Pergolesi, is revealed as a robust and inventive concerto grosso whose part-writing subtly highlights the concertino elements. Maderna’s last arrangement was of a Canzone by Giovanni Gabrieli, its antiphonal ‘choirs’ taken by woodwind, brass and strings with an expressive astringency redolent of Stravinsky.
Hardly less industrious as arranger, Luciano Berio (1925-2003) is represented by Chemins V (1992). As before, he transforms one of his Sequenzas (the 11th, for guitar) by integrating it into a chamber orchestra whose expressive restraint and fleeting prominence given to other instruments make the soloist a reticent master of ceremonies. A role Pablo Márquez takes on perceptively in this first recording – abetted by Dennis Russell Davies with his Swiss-Italian players whose playing, here as elsewhere, adds much to the attraction of this pleasurable disc.