EDOARDO BRUNI (b.1975): Sonata Romantica for Cello and Piano, 3 danze ungheresi and Fantasia for Violin and Piano, Sonata Esotica for Flute and Piano, Elegia for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Sonata Surrealista for Harmonica and Piano, La Pastora for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Percussion, Verità Nascoste for Clarinet and Cello, Spazi Viola for Clarinet and Cello, Grain de Sable for Solo Viola, Tobruk ’42 for Piano Quintet, Algol for Piano Trio.
Catalogue Number: 09X058
Reference: TC 970290
Description: Finely crafted, thoroughly accessible and enjoyable works, in resolutely conservative idioms in the general orbit of neo-romanticism. That’s the short version, and if that’s all you need to know, then you won’t be disappointed by this set. The works cover a certain range of styles, though, and the reason for that is the slightly odd thing about this recording, which presents the spectacle of a retrospective of the early output of a composer who is now only 45. The idea seems to arise from a rather unfortunately polemical dismissal, in two booklet essays, of "new" music which delights only in its novelty, which may strike some as largely a straw man argument, especially as the 1960s are now a long way behind us. This gives rise to the slightly off-putting title of the disc, which merely implies music the value of which transcends the time in which it was written. Bruni speaks of three compositional "periods" represented here; the first is his "Romantic" phase, which lasted five years and gave rise to his Opp. 2 and 4. Both are acknowledged, and obvious, tributes to Brahms, the half-hour sonata being a highly accomplished Brahms pastiche, which is not to deny its youthful dramatic passion and heart-on-sleeve emotions, nor the composer’s impeccable use of sonata form. Then came the "Surrealist" phase (10 years), which Bruni uses to mean the presentation of familiar material out of context, or un unexpected juxtaposition, and which in practice mostly implies experimentation with the harmonies and relationships of the early 20th century rather than the mid-19th. The very attractive flute sonata, for instance, is heavily indebted to Debussy and Impressionist Orientalism. One of the four Pieces comes closest to the kind of thing one thinks of in Surrealist painting; variations on an Italian song, it could represent distorted figures, peasants, and skeletons cavorting in a Dalían landscape. All are enjoyable little character pieces for different instrumental groupings. The most "surreal" piece is really the terrific little harmonica sonata, its flexible, distinctive voice treated entirely seriously as the soloist in an energetically argued single-span sonata structure. The Elegy, from the same period, is moving and neo-romantic, with a greater sense of personal, rather than borrowed, emotional utterance than the previous pieces. Finally, the composer’s "Heroic" phase, which means full-blooded neo-romanticism in a highly chromatic modal language, well suited to narrative, programmatic, and dramatic content. This seems to be the idiom the composer has explored since 2009, but nothing of this current? phase is in this collection. The big-boned, half-hour piano quintet Tobruk '42 is a tribute to the composer’s grandfather, who was injured in the war in Libya. It displays its program openly, with military marches, dramatic episodes and high emotional sentiment. The striking piano trio Algol was inspired by the binary star, with demonic associations, in the constellation of Perseus, and describes the Andromeda myth in vivid detail, alongside references to the mysterious, alien astronomical object. This 2008 work seems to announce the composer’s arrival at his mature style; combining different degrees of tonality and modality in a highly expressive chromatic language that stops well short of atonality. 2 CDs. Multiple performers.