CARLO ALESSANDRO LANDINI (b.1954): Piano Sonata No. 5.
Catalogue Number: 08Y035
Label: Da Vinci Classics
Description: One's first reaction upon encountering a piano sonata with a duration exceeding two hours, is, and should be, a devout hope that the composer has enough to say, and the means with which to say it, to hold the listener's attention for that long. The very small number of composers who have previously essayed anything on this scale - one thinks immediately of Sorabji and Andrew Violette - certainly achieved this, by presenting a teeming multitude of diverse, contrasting ideas, textures, and dramatic content. Sorabji’s enormous variation sets, for example, excel in bombarding the listener with new impressions or rapidly evolving drama at every turn. Landini takes a different approach, easier to ease one's way into at the outset, perhaps, but less immediately suggestive of the music's ability to sustain interest over so long a span (it does). The Sonata opens unassumingly, establishing a sense of harmonically vague tonality, suggesting some kinship with Scriabin. Gradually one starts to realize that two types of figure make up the texture; scale fragments and sequences of chords; later, an insistent repeated note, sometimes in octaves, becomes important. These are not themes, nor even motifs; they are, as it were, archetypes of motifs - distinct shapes that are capable of taking on any color, texture, or dimension in the spectrum. The ebb and flow of tension, dynamics, and density of texture are impeccably judged and structured; whether some vastly distended palimpsest of sonata form underlies the progress of the work, or whether it is more akin to the architecture of variation form, is not readily apparent on preliminary listenings - plural - and would very likely be more apparent with the aid of the score; if you’re so moved, it’s available from Da Vinci Publishing for a mere 180€. The enormous piece - which plays continuously - is divided on the CDs into 10 tracks of varying length, but it is far from clear what precise significance these have; the composer’s note (which dwells mostly on philosophical matters) makes no mention of any such subdivisions, and there is no clear demarcation of sections in the music, which flows organically from one to the next. If the bulk of the piece is in fact a vast development section then these may mark changes in the type and degree of interaction between contrasting materials, which broadly seems to be the case. Each section (apart from the last) has its proper climax in which density and dynamics dramatically increase, and in accordance with the overall pacing of the work, these sections are extended, to powerful effect. The work’s main climax occurs in "section VI" and is overwhelming in its power and implacable momentum. This acts as a kind of watershed in the sonata’s progress; the argument continues, but with greater emphasis on chordal richness of harmony and texture, leading to what is unmistakably a blazing triumphant climax in the first third of "section IX". The remainder of this section sounds like a thunderous cadential gesture, were such a thing accustomed to last some ten minutes, and then a very slow coda, using ambiguous, floating fragments of the same gestural material, ends the sonata in a mood of resolution, resignation, and, probably, exhaustion. The effect of the whole is very much that of any large Romantic sonata, with its distinct narrative and dramatic arc; and since clock time ceases to have any relevance within the experience of this and similar works of extreme duration, no especial effort of attention is required of the listener. 2 CDs. Massimiliano Damerini (piano). 2CDs ‡ (Counts as 1 CD for shipping.)