MARIA GABRIELLA MARIANI (b.1963): Ologramma, Sonata “Pour Jouer”.
Catalogue Number: 08Y036
Label: Da Vinci Classics
Description: Immensely attractive and enjoyable, thoroughly tonal and lushly neo-romantic works by a virtuoso pianist-composer. This is clearly music intended to be enjoyed by listener and performer alike. The Theme and seventeen variations is based on a simple theme with something of the character of a popular folksong, which is then put through its paces in a variety of Romantic and post-Romantic styles. Mariani is a serious pianist of great accomplishments, but it would not be surprising to learn that she has no objection to being thought of as an entertainer capable of appealing to a wide audience, on the strength of the sumptuous, heart-on-sleeve emotionality of some of the variations (the same backhanded compliment was leveled at artists like Paderewski and Kreisler, after all, and their accomplishments are undiminished as a result). The final variation leads directly into a short "Intermezzo"movement - effectively a further meditation on the theme - and then a substantial finale, also based on the theme, which reaches a decisive conclusion. What happens next is rather unexpected; the composer embarks on a substantial "improvisation", longer than the composed music heard so far. This extended further exploration of the theme's characterful melodic potential is entirely convincing, combining elements of Impressionism, Romanticism, and at times a distinct Spanish turn of phrase, and some delicious bluesy musings. It may be that it is better listened to as a separate piece, being both varied and structured enough to stand on its own. Pour jouer is actually a substantial three-movement sonata, with an interesting history which dictates its styles and content. It was composed as a tribute to the great Aldo Ciccolini, who praised it highly after hearing the composer play it in 2014 (and was probably amused to hear his performing career so expertly summed up in a new work). The first movement is Impressionistic, flowing and organic, and probably explains the cover of the CD, which appears to be a picture of the composer, manipulated to resemble a sun-drenched scene by Monet, Renoir, or Caillebotte. The second movement begins with Satie- esque coolness, progresses by way of Rachmaninov and the elegance of the Classical literature to set up the large, exhilarating finale, which is pure Saint-Saëns, spiced up with essence of de Falla. Maria Gabriella Mariani (piano)