FRANCO DONATONI (1927-2000): Abyss for Mezzo-Soprano, Bass Flute and 10 Instruments (Katarzyna Otczyk [mezzo]), Souvenir (Kammersymphonie Op. 18) for 15 Instruments, Puppenspiel III for Piccolo, Flute and 14 Executors (Mario Caroli [flutes]), Orts (Souvenir No. 2) for 14 Instruments and Reader (Francesco Antonioni [reader]).

Catalogue Number: 10T067

Label: Stradivarius

Reference: STR 37075

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: These works, from different periods of Donatoni's career, share the common factor of the great icon of the avant garde's restless, incessant energy, the precisely notated music seeming to tumble over itself in its haste to get its ideas across. Even in his darkest works - and Abyss is very dark indeed - this instantly identifiable scintillating, hyperactive style is always present. The two Souvenirs, from 1968 and 1969, serve as related commentaries on the avant-garde of the time. 'Kammersymphonie' is built entirely from cut-up fragments of Stockhausen's Gruppen, itself a whirlwind of creative energy. ORTS is played by three distinct instrumental groupings, seemingly accompanied by (rather than the other way around) a lengthy essay by the composer, a kind of performance art piece blending philosophical musings, artistic credo and self-doubt, coolly intoned by the narrator. Abyss, from 1983, is an immensely powerful and expressive work, paradoxically more approachable than the self-examining pieces of the 1960s and '70s, even as its message is more emotionally forbidding. After a brief slow introduction, setting an alienated short phrase by Fernando Pessoa, the work, scored for a dark-toned instrumental ensemble, is an ambiguously active perpetual motion machine, accompanying a thoroughly disturbing English poem, a kind of surrealist nightmare, by Susan Park, the composer's wife. In Puppenspiel III (1996) the composer's flair for instrumental dramaturgy is evident. This series, inspired by an imaginary marionette theatre, is notably in a more immediately approachable style than the earlier works, less fractured and dissonant (relatively speaking), with a playful yet slightly sinister sense of narrative. Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto; Marco Angius.


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