SANDRO FUGA (1906-1994): Piano Sonatas No. 1 (Giacomo Fuga), No. 2 (Carlotta Fuga) and No. 3 (Claudio Voghera).

Catalogue Number: 05X056

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.579110

Format: CD

Price: $13.98

Description: Relatively new to the recorded repertory, Fuga is already established as a composer of quality, distinction, and originality. These exceedingly fine sonatas join the Cello Sonatas (09X042) in announcing him as a creative artist who had no difficulty in finding new things to say in a vocabulary with the utmost respect for tradition. He was a refined and aristocratic personality, from a family that nurtured a number of prominent artists (including Luigi Nono), who declared himself a "Romantic survivor" and described the Italian avant-garde of his day as "musical clownery"; his music is above all, directly communicative in its emotional utterance and, as the above would lead you to suspect, resolutely tonal. The sonatas are very distinct from one another, while unquestionably recognisable as being from the same pen. The three-movement Second, following some two decades after the First, is a less extrovert work, though no less eloquent; the Third has more of the Romantic drama of the First, and is on a similarly large, four-movement scale. A good deal of French influence is evident; Ravel in the fleet, elfin scherzo of No.1, Debussy in the finales of both No.1 and No.2, for instance. Rachmaninov, Chopin, and Brahms are also Fuga's constant companions, but his style is very much his own, and could never be mistaken for any of his precursors. All three sonatas begin with a thoroughly worked out, expository first movement; the slow movement of No.1 is somewhat in the nature of an intermezzo after the storms of the first movement, while that of No.2, following the relatively restrained opening movement, is a full-scale funeral march over a tolling ostinato bass line, and No.3 has a passionate, romantic meditation with a wealth of melodic invention. The Second has no scherzo; that of No.3 is fugal and sprightly. 2 and 3 have vigorous allegro finales, bustling and active, and surging and turbulent respectively; by contrast, No.1 ends with a philosophically reflective movement redolent of memory and farewell, with brief episodes of passionate protest, and all three sonatas end quietly, eschewing bombast. All in all a superb trilogy of highly rewarding works; Fuga's output includes concerti, a symphony, chamber music and stage works, so if these sonatas are typical of his quality then he is well and truly due for a revival.

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