PIZZETTI; CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Violin Sonatas
The Italy of the 1920s was not a good place to be. Luckily, though, jazz was starting to enjoy some popularity, despite the overarching and perennial cultural influence of opera and, more importantly, the disapproval of the burgeoning Fascist government, who thought it too anarchic (and foreign). Cinema, less unacceptable, was also at the start of its life and both media provided Italy with some sense of release and comfort.
So, with that in mind, Pizzetti and Castelnuovo-Tedesco represent more than meets the ear in Italian music of the period. Pizzetti was never involved in opera – a rarity among Italian composers of any period – and, like Castelnuovo-Tedesco, displayed a great interest in film. There is a rash of obvious sentimentality in his music, particularly in the Sonata in A and even further in its second movement (the emotively titled ‘Preghiera per gl’innocenti’), but it can easily be forgiven, and not only under the terms that it is Italian or that all its substance resides in the melody line. Its value lies in its foreshadowing not only the more progressive music of his pupil Castelnuovo-Tedesco that is present on this disc, but so much of the unique tradition of Italian cinema and its music.
There is more to the propriety of Hagai Shaham as an interpreter of this music than meets the ear as well. His warmth of tone, expressivity and instinctive feel for melody, time and pace all suit this music beautifully and create a performance that arguably even has more depth and appeal than it strictly deserves.