Maderna: Requiem / Molino, Teatro la Fenice Orchestra
A recording of the world première of a major early work, delayed by some sixty years, and thus an important document.
When buried masterpieces are rediscovered, they hardly succeed to rewrite history. However, Bruno Maderna’s Requiem per soli, cori e orchestra, unearthed sixty years after its disappearance, may well withstand the test, and quite successfully. With all its bulk, and its by no means derivative craftsmanship, it could perhaps be a candidate for the role of the ‘Riace bronze’ of Italian twentieth century music. At the very least – even with the aid of other rediscoveries, like the Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra of 1941-42 – this score sheds light on a character for long almost unknown: the pre-dodecaphonic Maderna, a young but perfectly formed and mature artist, whose known compositions were, until the 2000s, limited to just some minor works. For many years we had detailed yet frustrating information about the Requiem: an autograph fragment of the score had survived, consisting of sixteen pages in fair copy that included an introductory note, from which it was possible to infer the overall structure of the work, the arrangement of the choral group and the approximate number of pages, around ten times those that had survived.
Not a world première recording, but a recording of the world première of a major early work, delayed by some sixty years, and thus an important document.
The magnum opus of his pre-dodecaphonic period finds the young composer writing in a very tonal, though harmonically individual, idiom. Throughout the work there are many magically imaginative timbres and sonorities, reminding us that Maderna was an outstanding conductor with an impeccable ear for orchestration and tone color. It is clear that had he continued to be this kind of composer, rather than radically shifting direction, then he would still have been a remarkable one, though the history of the European avant-garde would have been very different without his incalculable contributions.
The Requiem begins with an atmosphere of dignity and profound mourning. The extended Dies irae sequence, set in its entirety, is as apocalyptic as one might wish, with the presence of the bass drum and the dramatic character of the music and its impassioned vocal solos suggesting that the composer was looking back to Verdi, and the operatic approach to the concert requiem. The final sections, beginning with the exquisitely delicate Agnus Dei, sink progressively into the shadows of profound regret, echoing the sentiments of Wilfred Owen: "All a poet can do today is warn." The tormented closing Libera me - not for the first or last time the most terrifying part of a requiem setting - abandons all hope in a precipitous descent into the abyss.
-- Records International
Release Date: January 14, 2022
Catalog Number: STR37180
Period: 20th Century
Composer: Bruno Maderna
Conductor: Andrea Molino
Country of Origin: Italy
Orchestra/Ensemble: Orchestra of Teatro la Fenice
Performer: Veronica Simeoni