Lucchesini: Luciano Berio - Piano Music (FLAC)
Lucchesini: Luciano Berio - Piano Music (FLAC)

Performer: Andrea Lucchesini, Valentina Pagni Lucchesini
Composer: Luciano Berio
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Avie
Size: 152 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

01. Sonata per pianoforte solo
02. Six Encores: Brin
03. Six Encores: Leaf
04. Six Encores: Wasserklavier
05. Six Encores: Erdenklavier
06. Six Encores: Luftklavier
07. Six Encores: Feuerklavier
08. Rounds
09. Sequenza IV
10. Cinque Variazioni
11. Touch
12. Canzonetta

Rewarding Modern Piano Music

Somewhere between Messiaen and Stockhausen was my first reaction on listening to Berio’s piano sonata. I thought the endless B flats that chime through the piece were going to drive me nuts, but halfway through the 20-minute piece there is a spectacular explosion of activity that is thrilling. Throughout, the ear is drawn into the extraordinary soundworld, even when the music is, on first acquaintance, rather dry. Zillions of fast repeated notes give several passages a feel of genuine motion and purpose – and the harmony in these exhilarating toccatas as well as the central explosion of chords (a veritable onslaught of light and dark hurled across the canvas) is fascinatingly ambiguous. I feared the music (my first reacquaintance with Berio for half a lifetime) might lack humanity, but I think it will reward repeated listening and will feel composed by a person rather than a system.
On a second hearing of this late work (written 2000-01, two years before the composer’s death) I had no trouble with the repeated B flats (which inevitably recall Le gibet from Ravel’s Gaspard). When they are superseded by very rapid repeated notes, you wonder (as we are at the piano) if the ghost of Prokofiev has walked across the stage, but to my ears these nightmarish scurryings have stepped out of the pages of Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra, where they dash about the string section. Then (back to the Berio) that eruption of block chords like a musical equivalent of Pollock, then toccata-like passages that propel the action forward to fast chords reminiscent of Messiaen. These ideas alternate with periods of stillness before the reappearance of the tolling B flat. Many chords are almost consonant, many threads of notes almost melodies (though, make no mistake, like all Berio, this is very modern-sounding music!).
Verdict: A deeply rewarding and very strong piece of abstract music (no narrative element, unlike the piano sequenza, also on this disc). Fully worthy of the title Sonata. And the rest of the disc – all marvellously played and beautifully recorded – is equally enjoyable. The notes, including a reminiscence by the pianist of the composer, round off a must for anyone interested in modern piano music.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply