On the Record: Complete solo piano music by Riccardo Malipiero
The classical recording business, which has had more postmortems than Howard Stassen (that'll give you younger folks something to Google), still keeps on ticking.
There is certainly not the same volume of yore, but that also means that there aren't quite as many additions to the overstuffed bins of Beethoven Fifth CDs.
I am constantly surprised by the esoteric fare that now pops up on disc, from obscure baroque gems right on through cutting-edge works where the ink on the scores is barely dry.
One recent item that caught my attention: The first recording of the complete solo piano music by Italian composer Riccardo Malipiero, performed by Jose Raul Lopez on a Toccata Classics release. Talk about off the beaten path.
The name Malipiero is not likely to register with many folks today, at least on these shores. Even people open to the more complex side of 20th-century music may not have encountered his work.
(His uncle, Gian Francesco Malipiero, left a larger mark as a composer, but is not really any better known to the average concertgoer or record buyer.)
With Riccardo Malipiero (1914-2003), we're talking about an ...
No use pretending that Malipiero is easy listening, even in the pre-12-tone items. But Lopez makes the music quite approachable.
The pianist's grasp of the scores is sure, his articulation crystalline -- note the wild dash through the wildest contrapuntal flurries in Le rondini di Alessandro. The pianist's phrasing has plenty an expressive nuance, too, nowhere more so than in the inward-looking finale to the Diario secondo from 1985.
With movements that are often less than a minute (one of the 14 Variazioni lasts all of 10 seconds), Malipiero's keyboard works are filled with dashes of color; he's like a painter flicking a brush or making a swift swirl on a canvas. Lopez seems to thrive on these extraordinary little gestures, but he never loses sight of the big picture, the structure holding the individual components together.
The pianist also provides very detailed notes in the CD booklet that should help the adventurous listener along on this journey through a world of intricate ideas and fascinating sounds.