GIACOMO RONCHINI (b.1971): Piano Sonata, 2 Nocturnes.
Catalogue Number: 08X061
Label: Da Vinci Classics
Description: The Italian Kapustin? A composer-pianist with the standard Romantic concerto repertoire in his fingers from an early age, Ronchini is his own formidable protagonist on this disc. As composer his chosen mature idiom is firmly rooted in the unmistakable harmonies and rhythms of jazz, and with two collaborative Bossa Nova albums in his discography, the exhilarating syncopations of Brazilian music. The Sonata is a half-hour, four movement specimen, in form a traditional Romantic sonata; in content something most original. The first subject of the sonata-form first movement is a thunderous Bossa Nova allegro, as tumultuously thrilling as it is completely unexpected. This high velocity, obsessive ostinato smoothly segues into the suave second subject. The development crashes in, exploring rhythmic variants of the first theme even more tumultuously than before. A variation of the second subject gives way to the recapitulation of the first and a cliffhanger coda. The scherzo, subtitled "City" has a hectically jittery hyperactive urban vibe, relentless activity in the canyons of the mechanical metropolis. The trio is a warmly intimate waltz, perhaps a romantic liaison in a verdant square of the grid. Rhythmically and harmonically wayward, the slow movement evokes the passionate energy of youth, "30 years ago", naïve and sentimental but prone to eruptions of untrammeled emotion. The finale is a tumultuous toccata in rapid-fire chords divided between the hands, a long, singing melody presented and evolved embedded within the texture. A gentle, meditative central slow section rises to its own imposing climax and wistfully departs, ceding the field to the return of the hurtling toccata as it flings the music to an emphatic close. The Nocturnes are reflective pieces, the first a tender tribute to the composer’s father, while the second develops a theme from the first as variations. Giacomo Ronchini (piano).