SCIORTINO Chamber Music for Piano and Strings
Italian contemporary music has struggled to find renewed focus in recent years, with Orazio Sciortino (b1984) evidently among its leading lights. A formidable pianist (witness his set of opera transcriptions by Liszt and Tausig) as well as composer, the piano fairly dominates this disc of chamber works written during 2012‑13, but Diario di un poeta draws on songs from a decade earlier in music that eloquently reflects the confessional texts by Giuseppe Ungaretti.
The remaining pieces explore possibilities of instrumental dialogue over a single movement, with the Piano Trio moving from the lyricism of a ‘song without words’ towards much more ambiguous expression and the most tentative of resolutions. The longest of these works, the Piano Quartet unfolds across several sections as if paraphrases on the opening material of an increasingly fractious, even unstable nature. Not dissimilar in its formal processes, the Piano Quintet draws on Schubert’s Trout for its instrumentation though not in its oblique interplay, which becomes ever more quixotic on its way to the fugitive and insubstantial closing bars.
This is music, then, which offers a fresh and often illuminating perspective on archetypal media, and whose exacting yet never mindless virtuosity is ably met by the members of those ensembles for whom these pieces were written. Excellent sound and succinctly informative introduction from Sciortino, who is clearly a composer to watch (a ‘self-portrait’ of his piano works is imminent on Sony). Those new to his output should certainly investigate this release.