LUCIANO SIMONI (1932-2010): String Quartets No. 2, Op. 23, No. 6, Op. 54 and No. 8, Op. 67, Poemetto romantico for Piano Trio.

Catalogue Number: 06U059

Label: Tactus

Reference: TC 931901

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Simoni carried on his compositional career in parallel with a distinguished one in the scientific field, which freed him to compose as he liked, with no pressure to conform to any school or doctrine. His music is tonal, drawing on the Romantic tradition and the more conservative end of the 20th-century spectrum. He wrote some significant sacred music, inspired by his strong Catholic faith, and some elements of this can certainly be heard spilling over into his chamber music, including the three fine quartets presented here. All have, to some degree or another, a sense of earthly struggle and a resolution in a higher beyond. The 2nd, "Beyond Life", was written during his father's final illness, and its robust and muscular opening movement sounds like a protest; the adagio religioso that follows, like a search for divine succor through prayer, and the following defiant allegro with its unstable, failing heartbeat like the experience of the dying man. The work ends with a movement of gentle, affectionate resignation and farewell. The 6th is likewise in conventional four-movement form, with an imposing introduction followed by an energetic, agitated allegro. The second movement is a graceful, melancholy Romanza, full of restrained passion, and the third a vigorous scherzo, recalling the driven quality of the first movement. In a surprising twist, this is suddenly replaced by the final movement, Adagietto. The notes suggest that this title was chosen to highlight an affinity with the famous movement in Mahler's 5th, and that may be, though the Mahler to which it seems most closely related is the mood of farewell in the final symphonies. The 8th is unusual; a symmetrical three-movement structure, it also introduces the delicate, celestial sound of a harpsichord obbligato in the central movement, a kind of tranquil 'vision of heaven'. The busy first movement could be the exhausting bustle of earthly life, then the beatific vision intervenes, and when the stressful music returns in the finale it is progressively calmed by the continued impingement of the dream on reality, symbolized by harpsichord gestures continuing into the movement. The passionate Poemetto was an early piano work, recast as an emotionally stirring piano trio in the 1980s. Ensemble Respighi.

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