Duo Alterno - The Italian Contemporary Voice 5

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CD Stradivarius (Milano, 2011) producted by Rive-Gauche Concerti with substain of Regione Piemonte and Fondazione CRT.

This is the fifth CD of the serie dedicated to the Italian vocal chamber repertoire in XXth century.

Interpreters: Duo Alterno (Tiziana Scandaletti soprano, Riccardo Piacentini piano),
with the partecipation of Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali conducted by Roberto Gianola
and with Carla Savoldi flute and Virginia Arancio electric guitar.

Musicological notes by Guido Barbieri.



Lorenzo Ferrero
Canzoni d'amore (1985)
I. Mi palpita il cuore
II. Se un altro amore 
III. Che legge spietata
IV. Torna la calma in noi 
V. Se altro che lacrime
VI. Pensa che resto e soffro
VII. Sono un fiume che gonfio di umori 
Texts by Pietro Metastasio visited by Marco Ravasini and Lorenzo Ferrero

Giorgio Battistelli
Lettera di Angela (2008-10)
From the opera “Divorzio all'italiana”
xt by Giorgio Battistelli
Reduction for the Duo Alterno

Fabio Vacchi
Aria di Nadia (2009)
From the opera “Lo stesso mare”
xt by Amos Oz
Excerpt by the Composer for the Duo Alterno


Quattro Divertissement amorosi

Pieralberto Cattaneo
Se... (2009)
per voce, flauto e pianoforte
Sull'aria “Se tu m'ami” di Giovan Battista Pergolesi
Text by Paolo Antonio Rolli
Dedicated to the Duo Alterno
Carla Savoldi 

Victor Andrini
Marcello's Divertissement (2008)
for soprano, guitar and piano
On the air “Quella fiamma che m'accende” tr. to Benedetto Marcello
Text by Anomymous
Dedicated to the Duo Alterno
Virginia Arancio
electric guitar

Riccardo Piacentini 
Canson piemontéisa (2010)
for soprano, piano, orchestra and foto-suoni
On an ancient popular melody from Piedmont (“La pastora e 'l lüv”)
xt by Anonymous
Duo Alterno
and Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano conducted by Roberto Gianola

Da “Quattro canzóne napulitane” (2010)
for soprano, piano, orchestra and foto-suoni
On Neapolitan songs by Gaetano Donizetti
I. La conocchia 
II. Me voglio fà 'na casa
III. Lu trademiento
xt by Anonymous
Duo Alterno
and Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano conducted by Roberto Gianola


The Duo Alterno recount...

Love songs. An indefeasible perspective even in the most cultured, committed “contemporary” music. We may quite easily say, simplifying the question, that there are no composers, be they “cultured” or “popular” by definition, authors of music that is “light” or “heavy” (as Franco Donatoni loved to say with some irony), cold madrigalists or dark rockers, hypersensitive to market share or, in contrast, indifferent and resident in an ivory tower, who have not been struck and in turn have not struck others with at least one love song. Involuntarily perhaps, implicitly or even with some embarrassment…

“Culture” – wrote Max Weber in 1904 in the review Archives of social science and social politics – “is a finite section of the infinite deprived of the sense of the world’s evolving, to which is added a sense and meaning from the point of view of man.” And again, in 1905, in The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism: the historical analysis is always “in perspective”, it is a “point of view” based on “ideal-typical constructs” “freely” adopted by man.

These words of Weber’s sound like declarations of love, which perhaps his wife Marianne, sociologist and ante-litteram feminist, inseparable companion even when it came to continuing her husband’s work post mortem, might confirm as such. That masterpiece of a definition of a term that is otherwise professorially ascetic and certainly not in collusion with banal sentimental questions holds something disturbing, passionate and erotic; at the centre it places man with his “points of view” and his physiological urges which, in absolute terms, are lacking in sense but which take on a very profound meaning when they are contextualised.

We feel that it can only be legitimate, indeed necessary, given the facts, to dedicate this CD in the collection of La voce contemporanea in Italia to a perspective that cannot be renounced, that still emerges today, perhaps especially today, in culture, art and music (for be it “light” or “heavy” music, it is still culture!) and which is surprisingly translated into love songs.

From Lorenzo Ferrero’s Canzoni d’amore on texts by Metastasio, revisited with a sly, intelligent smile by Marco Ravasini and by Ferrero himself to the richly expressive, impassioned extracts from the recent works of Giorgio Battistelli (Divorzio all’italiana) and Fabio Vacchi (Lo stesso mare) transposed for voice and piano for the Duo Alterno, to the Quattro Divertissement amorosi, again dedicated to the Duo Alterno, which close the disc, this collection brings together various declinations of love, not excluding an excursus into vocal traditions (Marcello Pergolesi, Donizetti, Sinigaglia) masters of the love song who have certainly not been forgotten by today’s composers.

Alongside the disenchanted, post-modern smile, it is eroticism that bursts forth in works like the Canzonii d’amore (1985) by Lorenzo Ferrero, charged with unstoppable, mischievous energy that carries us away from the first to the seventh piece, with some moments of apparent calm (as in number four, Torna la calma in noi, which in reality creates a condition of questioning suspension that is anything but reassuring). Performing these works that last more than twenty minutes, recorded here for the first time in the complete version for voice and piano, is an experience of remarkable athletic effort. Before the recording we gave several public performances, albeit partial, from Serbia to Singapore, Australia and in Italy in Turin and Noto, and were always greeted with enthusiastic appreciation from audiences.

The recent compositions of Giorgio Battistelli and Fabio Vacchi are shorter but very intense. The first, Lettera di Angela (2008-10), is an aria with visceral, neo-Verist connotations, an authentic theatre scene which we first performed at the Lee Foundation Theater of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore on 6th October 2010 before an audience of almond-eyed professors and students whose curious, sincere emotion was visible even to our western eyes. The second composition, Aria di Nadia (2009), which we first performed at the Beijing Modern Music Festival on 25th Mary 2010 to a public that was almost entirely Chinese but which also included a substantial delegation from the Juilliard School of New York, with such outstanding personalities as Samuel Adler and Joel Sachs, is again dedicated to a female figure tossed onto the chamber stage by an authentic theatrical scene, but this time with a vaguely Sapphic nature perfumed with suggestively exotic atmospheres. In both cases the composers provided an extract specifically arranged for the Duo Alterno.

The “Quattro divertissement amorosi” that form the second part of the disc were likewise composed in the last three years and make up a sort of polyptych in which our Duo has worked in partnership with a variety of external artists and ensembles such as the guitarist from Portland (Oregon) Bryan Johanson, the flautist Massimo Mercelli, the Orchestra dei Pomeriggi Musicali of Milan. In the context of La voce contemporanea in Italia, these collaborations are added to previous ones with the New York cellist Madeleine Shapiro (second CD) and the Penderecki Quartet of Toronto (fourth CD). We hardly need to say that these collaborations have proved invaluable for the human and artistic growth of the Duo Alterno. In this case, however, for practical and logistical reasons linked to the desire to involve a group of young musicians, we have chosen the guitarist from Alessandria Virginia Arancio and, from Bergamo, the flautist Carla Savoldi who regularly work with the respective composers.

All the divertissements were created for our Duo, based on a specific idea of Tiziana’s: leaving the sung part practically unchanged, to revisit some well-known Italian chamber arias of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries re-contextualising them in a universe of sounds that is declaredly brought up to date. Not surprisingly the result varies significantly from composer to composer and, whilst in the piece by Pieralberto Cattaneo (who signs himself as Pergolaneo on the score) we encounter subtle, refined three-part counterpoint whose humour is never brash but is full of gentle grace, a pallid antidote to the sorrow inflicted by a serious family loss that struck the composer just a few months previously, in Marcello’s divertissement by Victor Andrini the electric guitar sneaks in as a sort of “killjoy” and interacts in a myriad of live effects that seem to be trying to undermine the stability of a Duo which nonetheless “battles on” and seems to be saying “take no notice of them, but look and move along”. An interesting metaphor for our times…

The last two pieces are in dialect, in the tradition of a complex series of works frequently featured in the programmes of the Duo Alterno, a vital part of their repertoire: Regata veneziana by Gioachino Rossini, Neapolitan romanzas by Gaetano Donizetti (original versions for voice and piano), ‘A vucchella by Francesco Paolo Tosti, Vecchie canzone popolari del Piemonte by Leone Sinigaglia, Quattro canti su antichi testi napoletani by Giorgio Federico Ghedini, Quattro favole romanesche by Alfredo Casella, El fior robà from “Quattro liriche per canto e pianoforte” by Valentino Bucchi, Quattro canzone popolari by Luciano Berio… and on to living composers, including Ada Gentile with Come passa la giornata Betty Boop (with fragments in Roman dialect on texts by Sandro Cappelletto) and Giorgio Colombo Taccani with L’àgnili, in Sardinian dialect, both works dedicated to the Duo Alterno.

The Canson piemontèisa and the Quattro canzone napulitane were presented by the Duo Alterno in a live recital on 28th November 2010 at the Teatro Dal Verme together with the Orchestra dei Pomeriggi Musicali of Milan conducted by Roberto Gianola. Their distinguishing feature is the fact that the re-reading maintains unchanged the vocal part of the folk melodies, in the first case taken from Costantino Nigra’s collection later used by Leone Sinigaglia and, in the second case, from four of the most famous of Gaetano Donizetti’s songs in Naples dialect (the last one to be precise of uncertain attribution). The sound “multiverse” that arises around them is truly an “ideal-typical construct” of multiple perspectives, perhaps a little excessive if not overwhelming considering the presence of “photo-sounds” (that is, extracts of the sound landscape following the poetics of the photo-sound, information about which can be found at www.rivegaucheconcerti.org) and the dense contrapuntal elaboration of the orchestral weft. This stands in the wake of a “generous” repertoire, which not only responds fully to Weber’s definition of culture, but more recently, has also echoed the splendid warning of methodological anarchy of such a champion of freedom of thought as Paul Feyerabend: not seeking homologation and lapsing into unforgiveable instrumental simplifications, but rather “conquering abundance”!

Musicological notes by Guido Barbieri

The greatest mystery of modernity is singing. A contradiction that cannot be solved, an enigma, an insupportable weight: no longer being able to sing what has always been sung. A pain, often a renunciation. And without even knowing exactly why. Why is it so difficult to draw the bow of song, when we renounce, voluntarily or historically, the rule of the hierarchy of sounds, the “magna carta” of the tonal system? Why does the sung line, removed from the principle of the difference and the attraction between sounds, seem to bend under the weight of the text and find no other solution than the compromise of declamation? A powerful, formidable modus cantandi, made up of fire, of storm and of stone, yet irremediably distanced from singing. And why does the mystery of singing alone not seem to take away the breath, for example, from “singing together” to say nothing of the infinite forms of singing without a voice? Is there perhaps something in the vox humana, and in its natural disposition to monody, that necessarily calls for a succession of sounds regulated by the principles of tension and resolution, a prosody regulated by the norms of cadence and the perceptible? Why does flatus vocis during the intonation, like a  weary marathon runner, seem to need a rest and then in the end a return to the status quo ante, to the glorious hypostasis of the tonic?

The new chapter in the research carried out by the Duo Alterno into forms of contemporary vocality seeks, perhaps not to offer a response, but at least to share the uneasy series of these suspended questions… The six composers of different generations, and highly different stylistic backgrounds, brought together for the occasion in the “house” of this disc, all seem to share an aesthetic premise instantly transformed into a “combative” option: none of them seems to intend to shirk the fight, to avoid a clash that will be hard and uncertain in its outcome, with the mysteries of singing. None of them seems to be trying to sidle away into a compromise, holding onto the ball, shuffling like a boxer or drawing simpering lines around the opponent afraid of being the first to land a dirty punch. Each of them, of course, reads the match against “Mister The “Monster” Song using all the many strategies of the noble art, but they all stand firmly rooted at the centre of the ring.

With his Canzoni d’amore Lorenzo Ferrero, for example, stages seven micro-operas which don the costume of the chamber romanza, but have the body of genuine miniature melodramas. Sets, scenes and costumes are all incorporated in the female voice, whilst orchestra and conductor move on the piano keyboard. It is not merely the musician’s poetic choices that convey the flatus vocis of the theatre in the gossamer thread of the texts: with the complicity of Marco Ravasini, Ferrero looks to Pietro Metastasio’s “poetry for music” and has himself guided with great confidence by metre, prosody, by the rhythmic gait of the seven components: but it is Ferrero’s vocal scoring that holds an immediate representational vividness. The intonation of the verses is mainly syllabic and leaves no room for any sort of virtuoso intent: interval gaps are limited and the singing proceeds in close degrees without ever drawing up excessively ample melodic spans. The piano accompaniment, by contrast, is dense, heavy, based on chords and shuns any abstract contrapuntal temptation. Where then shall we find the deep, instinctive theatrical side of these pages? In the capacity of each word to evoke, through its sound, a precise, well-defined narrative image. Thanks to this rhetorical trick, which the ancient rhetoricians defined as “hypotyposis” (though there is no artifice in the intonation procedures adopted by Ferrero…), each text is transformed, as we find in the German Lied, into a miniscule theatre where the voice is gesture, the piano is the orchestra, the text is the scene.

Again the Lettera di Angela by Giorgio Battistelli, a very representative fragment of the whole work, the opera Divorzio all’italiana, reveals an explicit narrative inclination to the listener’s ear. Compared to Ferrero’s Canzoni, however, this is a more immediate and transparent narrative mode, less allusive and metaphorical: from the miniature theatre of the Lied we move on here to the grand theatre of the world… The libretto of the opera, first staged in Nancy in 2008, follows with affectionate faithfulness the screenplay of Pietro Germi’s film, which in 1961 marked a sharp turning point in the history of “Italian Comedy”: the principal genre of national cinema production which was then abandoning the “subject” farce, linked to the comic stereotypes of “variety shows”, and adopting more complex narrative models which, taking on board in part the legacy of the brief season of neo-realism, was adding to the canonical palette of the “character comedy” the realistic shadow if not of drama then at least of comédie sérieuse. A “seriousness” which at times verged on a melancholy bitter mood, achieved with improper means as it intentionally insisted on a parody register. This is precisely the line that Battistelli cultivated with great scrupulosity in the garden of his score. The strategic decision to attribute all the “comedy parts” except for Angela’s to male performers (including the already grotesque role of Donna Rosalia) moves precisely in this direction: to attain grade zero in the farce insisting feverishly on the stylistic pedal of parody. A sort of powerful homeopathic remedy with truly miraculous effects…The piano version of the Lettera di Angela, specifically dedicated to the Duo Alterno, apparently steps away from the stylistic mainstream of the opera: addressing herself in a heartfelt, tender manner to her “beloved Fefé”, Angela, played in Germi’s film by a very young Stefania Sandrelli, opens up to the listener a pathetic-sentimental-nostalgic register rather than a farcical, parodying one. And yet the sung line brings out a series of somewhat contradictory stylistic figures: in the first four bars, for example, the repeated glissato on the descending fourths which intone the name of Fefé, or the rather harsh trill that insists on the upper register of the piano, and then touches all the sounds in a dizzying final rising scale. Or again the marked, ample intervals which intone, with a strong rising-falling curve, the fundamental motif cells of the vocal part. All symptoms, we feel, of a scarcely visible “scowl”, almost a facial tic (similar to the one that occasionally flits across Marcello Mastroianni’s marble face) which deforms the sober, lyrical linearity of Angela’s letter, and which, even in the apparent composure of its melodic progression, offers a glimpse of the smirk of parody: in this apparently atypical page too, we see the presence of an insistent, pervasive, omnipresent eros behind the façade of the code of bourgeois love.

We find an intimate theatre, a chamber theatre (almost “musica reservata”…) as a framework for the Aria di Nadia by Fabio Vacchi, once again an “opera fragment”, as in the case of Battistelli’s Lettera: this little piece of delicate, almost hesitant shades belongs to the forthcoming mosaic of Lo stesso mare, the theatrical work fruit of his “poetic friendship” with Amoz Oz which will be performed at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari during 2011. Obviously it is impossible to say in this case whether the piece, truly “in miniature”, is really representative of the mosaic or whether it represents a more striking anomaly. We might risk suggesting that in the meagre thirty-two bars of the score for voice and piano (another piece dedicated ad personam to the Duo Alterno) Vacchi adopts a highly experimental style of intonation, one that is not frequently found in his “dramatic” compositions. The singing line, in itself even, discursive, based on minimal interval gaps and with frequent repetition of a “corda di recita”, is continually broken, bent, fragmented, by a series of acciaccaturas: cells of one, two or three sounds which, as the score indicates, are to be “performed as portamenti, always as quickly as possible”. Each cornerstone sound in the main melody is systematically anticipated by a cluster of acciaccaturas so that the voice only reaches the “prescribed” note after a rapid series of oscillations, waves, approximations, as was the custom in the ancient technique of troubadour singing, known as “cercar la nota” (seeking the note). As though the note were a light, winged creature which touches the ground after being given over to the run of the currents. The effect on the listener, insofar as we may infer it from the written notation, is a double one: on the one hand the melodic span cannot but bend, fatally, to a clutching, rapid declamation, almost whispering which slips into the textual ductus sound fragments and non-semantic cells completely unrelated to the discursive order. On the other, it creates, almost as in the archaic mediaeval organa, a wholly imaginary splitting of the main and secondary melodies: the tenor is made up of “broad” sounds which mark out the syllabic scansion of the text, whilst the duplum comes out in the tight sounds, in the “decorative” fragments designed by the acciaccaturas.  And in some passages, as happens in Bach’s Two-part Inventions, the two real parts create a “third” invisible, imaginary part that can be heard perfectly, produced by the echo and resonance effects between the real sounds. It is precisely in this imaginary space that the thin trace of the Aria di Nadia finds meaning and reason: if Amos Oz’s text seems to describe a sort of nostalgia, an intimate Arcadian planctus, a melancholy farewell to life marked out by the presence of simple, concrete objects (a napkin that will never be finished, the wine, the goat’s milk, the shadow of the mountains, the song of the nightingale) the song (literally) has the “air” of wishing to transcend the framework of “little things” to sketch out a faithful diagram of a feeling of anxiety, of a restless and feverish flatus vocis which in reality cannot resign itself to separation from existence.

The two “divertissements amorosi” by Pieralberto Cattaneo and Victor Andrini form a secluded oasis in the disc’s project. In many respects Se and Marcello’s Divertissement are two “twin” pieces and form a sort of ideal diptych whose clear symmetries are as strong as their reciprocal contrasts. To start with, both take apart and then reassemble two simple musical objects which in the lexicon of the legendary Parisotti would be called “ancient arias”: in the former the aria “Se tu m’ami” by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi on a text by Paolo Antonio Rolli, in the latter the aria “Quella fiamma che m’accende” attributed to Benedetto Marcello on an anonymous text. The aesthetic principle cultivated by the two composers, however, is not the calque, the quotation, the mere rewriting in a “modern” key of a text from the past: rather the stylistic design is syncretism, the production of a hybrid from two matrices that are profoundly and irreversibly different. Again the performing group of the two pieces offers clear identity: in both cases voice and piano represent the extreme poles of the scoring, identifying, that is to say, the monodic and the polyphonic principles. At the “perspective” centre of this opposition lie two “alien” voices: in Cattaneo’s work the flute, in Andrini’s the electric guitar. But this is where the game of similarities and references closes. The vocal and instrumental scoring of the two pieces could not present more widely different features.

Se… is presented to the reader (and to the listener) as a self-aware, shrewd, highly refined study of the historical forms of vocal chamber music. The explicit, almost excessively “flaunted”, reference to the stylistic mode of Pergolesi’s time does not, then, hold a parodying intent, nor any restoration intention. The chamber aria “Se tu m’ami, se sospiri”, in itself standing apart from the world of opera, has the simple function of being a historic milestone: it is a starting point in time which is immediately left behind by the clear reference, at the opening of the piece, to the techniques and forms of contemporary manners: before the voice enters the flute, playing over chromatic harmonies on the piano, lays out a little anthology of the typically 20th-century sounds of the instrument: the harmonics on upper sharps, the strongly broken lines of the melody, the extended whirring on a fixed note. An “ample” sound gesture, with a strong imaginative impact, which is somehow redoubled in the finale when the score, after returning to the incipit, orders the performers to pronounce the syllable “se” (alpha and omega of the piece) speaking “into” the instrument and thus creating unpredictable resonance effects. Between these two extremes voice, flute and piano leaf through the history book of chamber vocal style bringing all possible forms of intonation to the text: an alienated descending chromatic melody from the voice (in the first bars), a highly marked declamation very close to sung-spoken, a “canto a due” in counterpoint with the flute, an arioso that stretches the vocal span so that it rises to an explicit, flaunted cantabile manner.

The stylistic rationale of Marcello’s Divertissement is, in some ways, clearer and more incisive: the relationships between the text and its sound amplifications seem to be controlled in this piece with its timbre of the “visionary”, by two dominant rhetorical figures: redundancy and opposition. Unlike Rolli’s “chamber” piece adopted by Cattaneo, Andrini’s choice possesses a markedly theatrical posture: “Quella fiamma che m’accende” immediately calls to mind the attitude, posture and pronunciation of the great opera aria. And, with subtle parodying humour, the intonation of the text supports this clear tendency to frenzy. For example, the voice emphasises to breaking point the repetition of the words “che giammai si estinguerà” which close the first stanza. An obvious effect of redundancy rendered all the more effective by the extreme clarity of the linear ductus of the voice: intonation is mainly syllabic and ensures that the text remains generally intelligible, the melodic span is fluid, based on adjacent, natural intervals, whilst the trick of constantly shifting the motive cell corresponding to the words “che giammai” makes the mechanism of parodying repetition even more evident. The application of the principle of opposition produces an effect that is in a certain sense more “spectacular” for it fully invests the perceptive dimension of the piece, its strong inclination to listening. The two poles of the contrast are explicit, without any intermediate shades: on the one hand the substantially tonal basis of the vocal melos, confirmed by the key signature: on the other by the crisp, “primitive” chord blocks produced by the electric guitar and made all the more strident by the use of a distorter. In the B section of the aria, the guitar brings forth more delicate sound qualities and a more discursive syntax, and also allows the piano to draw up an extremely clear accompanying profile, but the canonical reprise of the “da capo” cannot hold back a certain unbounded virtuoso energy, placated only in the chance, almost unhoped-for, rediscovery of the home key.

The horizon which in the distance closes the landscape of contemporary vocality sketched in this disc offers a glimpse of a new land: the relationships between the contemporary voice and the “iron shirt” as Elliott Carter has defined it, of the classical-romantic orchestra. Continuing with the “historical” investigation into the endless resonances that link the universe of art music to the world of folk music, Riccardo Piacentini reaches two texts which seem to trace a surprising continuity between two apparently distant musical traditions: on the one hand, the “creative revisitation”, as the author defines it, of an ancient Piedmont folk song, La bergera e ‘l luv (The shepherd girl and the wolf), on the other the “amused transcription” of four romanzas for song and piano by Gaetano Donizetti on texts by an anonymous Neapolitan author. The Canson piemontèisa and the Quattro canzòne napulitane are not only learned, cultured and “amused” exercises in orchestral transcription: they seek rather to create, around the melodic ductus of the original texts, a sound aura that leads the “ancient” voice back to the riverbed of an explicitly contemporary sound. “In the first case,” writes Piacentini, “the original melody has been used in a textual, reiterated manner, while the sound world around it blossoms and reinvents the harmonic material suggested in the most historical of re-readings.” In the second case, in a specular manner, “the original melodies have been used literally”, whilst the accents of contemporaneousness are produced, in particular, by “reinvention following new codes of the piano parts.”


(Translations by Timothy Alan Shaw)

Some reviews on CD Duo Alterno - The Italian Contemporary Voice in Italy 4

FromIl Giornale della Musica– November 2012: The Italian voice, as it is today

The Duo Alterno's project on one of the most karst ensemble in the contemporary compositional thought [...] lands to its fifth episode, themed around love, that does not fear eclipse nowadays but accepts many stylistic disguises: starting from the Canzoni d'amore [Love Songs] by Ferrero, a compilation of 1985, dated but not aged [...] excellently supported by the fine performers. They also manage brilliantly in the other recent works, from the two theatrical-musical extracts by Battistelli and Vacchi [...] to the four Divertissements that involve [...] other instrumental soloists (Carla Savoldi and Virginia Arancio), the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali conducted by Roberto Gianola, and the process of sampling-layering of sound slides (the 'foto-suoni') dear to the composer Piacentini. (Alessandro Mastropietro)

From “Musica” – September 2012: The Italian contemporary voice vol. 5 (artistic score ****)

“[...] The Duo Alterno was able to convince to its strong narrative vein. The works recorded here are genuine songs of love and, except the explosive Lorenzo Ferrero's Love Songs [...] composed in 1985, are compositions licensed in these past few years and devoted expressly to this duo. The CD is completed by a rich and in-depth essay signed by Guido Barbieri which is worth reading. (Massimo Viazzo)

From “Classic Voice” – June 2012: Contemporary. The Italian chamber lyric vol. 5

“Tiziana Scandaletti and Riccardo Piacentini since 1996 are musically associated as Duo Alterno and, in this role, they give life to one of the most interesting recording projects of recent years, not counting the countless concerts kept in all the world. This is a precise and intelligent field choice: instead of swelling the ranks of artists who do always the same things, the two musicians have decided to devote themselves - thanks also to the composer activity of the same Piacentini - to the Italian contemporary chamber lyric, starting their exploration since the dawn of the twentieth century (magnificent their recordings of Ghedini, Casella, Malipiero, Tosti), right up to the present day. [...] The couple Scandaletti-Piacentini performs the interesting Canzoni d'amore by Lorenzo Ferrero [...] two transcriptions by Vacchi and Battistelli, expressly created for the Duo [...] pieces by Pieralberto Cattaneo, Victor Andrini and the same Piacentini, here facing, in Canson Piemontéisa, with his now-classic foto-suoni’, this time accompanied by the orchestra of I Pomeriggi Musicali, well directed by Roberto Gianola. (Carmelo Di Gennaro)

From “Suono” – February 2011: La voce contemporanea in Italia vol. 5

“Ferrero, Battistelli, Vacchi, Cattaneo, Andrini, Piacentini are the composers [...] Doubt, betrayal, pain are realized from the voice with a variety of accents, without artifices. The piano emphasizes phrasing and enhances feelings [...]” (Paola Raschi)

From “Amadeus” – November 2011: The Italian contemporary voice vol. 5 (artistic score ****, technical score *****)

“[...] the Duo Alterno [...] is the leading actor of the recording. Around the voice of Tiziana Scandaletti and the piano of Riccardo Piacentini there are however other valid performers: Carla Savoldi (flute), Virginia Aranciio (elecrtic guitar) and, for the elaborations of popular songs by the same Piacentini, the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali conducted by Roberto Gianola. These last pages, Canson piemontèisa and Canzóne napulitane (2010), form with the cycle Canzoni d'amore (1985) of Lorenzo Ferrero the backbone of the recording, dotted with the brief pieces by Giorgio Battistelli (Lettera di Angela, 2008-10), Fabio Vacchi (Aria di Nadia, 2009), Pieralberto Cattaneo (Se..., 2009), Victor Andrini (Marcello's Divertissement, 2008). Pleasant to listen, the program is performed with the appropriate energy and spirit (therefore often playful and overtly ironic), but also with an high accuracy for the interpretation that we can appreciate from the beginning to the end allowing to capture delicious shades, unexpected details and other pleasantness that are revealed.” (Cesare Fertonani)

Da “Blog Chitarra e Dintorni” dell'1 novembre 2011: Nuove Musiche

“Quinto volume dedicato dalla Stradivarius al canto e l'uso della voce nella musica contemporanea italiana [...] brani ben interpretati dal Duo Alterno [...] la voce qui diventa un pretesto per attivare un raccordo con la tradizione [...] mediando verso la ‘melodia’. Cosa di meglio che farlo attraverso la dolcezza e la tradizione della voce? [...] Il Duo non è da solo in questo cd [...] lo accompagnano il flauto di Carla Savoldi, l'Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali diretta da Roberto Gianola e la chitarra elettrica di Virginia Arancio [...]”

From “La Stampa” – September 30th 2011: Contemporary voices. Seven love songs and strophes from Piedmont for the Duo Alterno

As convinced and assiduous supporter of the recent songs, the Duo Alterno [...] proposes for Stradivarius label the fifth CD dedicated to the ‘Italian contemporary voice’. Here there are Lorenzo Ferrero [...] Giorgio Battistelli [...] Fabio Vacchi [...] and a look to the past is in Se... [If...] by Pieralberto Cattaneo and Marcello's Divertissement by Victor Andrini [...] Then the same Piacentini takes the field using those ‘foto-suoni’ that he likes so much [...] with the Orchestra dei Pomeriggi Musicali directed by Roberto Gianola. Tiziana Scandaletti shows, as always, an extrahordinary interpretative ductility, relying on her clear and communicative voice. The feeling with Riccardo Piacentini [...] is total. So this is the fifth CD of the series and the fifth goal optimally achieved.” (Leonardo Osella)

From “Rockerilla” – September 2011: Duo Alterno. The Italian contemporary voice vol. 5

“Duo Alterno's path through the history of the Italian ‘contemporary’ vocal music goes on [...] The fifth chapter of this very precious work is all focused on love contemporary songs, concentrating on compositions almost written in the last three years [...] Among the composers, Ferrero, Battistelli, Vacchi, Cattaneo, Andrini [...] Piacentini, who exhibits all the necessary requirements in the role of composer, as well as being an excellent pianist.” (Daniele Follero)

From “corrierebit.com” – July 2011: New CDs by Milano Dischi

“[...] this is the fifth CD of the series La voce contemporanea in Italia [The Italian contemporary voice] and presents the Duo Alterno as protagonist of contemporary pieces by Italian composers like Ferrero, Battistelli, Vacchi, Cattaneo, Andrini and Piacentini. The Duo [...] in some works of the CD perform together with flutist Claudia Savoldi, Virginia Arancio at the electric guitar, and in Riccardo Piacentini's pieces as composers with the Orchestra ‘I Pomeriggi Musicali’ conducted by the excellent Roberto Gianola. [...] The works are all recent except the first one by Lorenzo Ferrero, Canzoni d'amore, written in 1985 [...] with a tonal scripture easy to understand that, starting from an ancient compositional mode, finds a valid expression in the voice of Scandaletti and in the precise accompaniment of Piacentini. Giorgio Battistelli's piece Lettera di Angela [Angela's letter] (2008-2010) is from the recent opera Divorzio all'italiana [Divorce in Italian style] [...] The excellent reduction [for voice and piano] written for the Duo Alterno highlights the valid compositional writing that emphasizes the dramatic nature of the letter through the incisive voice of the soprano. Also the piece Aria di Nadia [Nadia's aria] by Fabio Vacchi from Bologna is from a recent opera [...] Lo stesso mare [The same sea] of Amoz Oz is in fact recently staged at Petruzzelli Theater in Bari gaining a big success [...] The aria extracted by Vacchi for the valid Duo has a dramatic intensity that well underlines the genuine theatricality and the in-depth musical scripture of the composer. An evocation to the 18th Italian century music is in the two following pieces: Se... [If] (2009) [...] by Pieralberto Cattaneo [... and, by Victor Andrini,] Marcello's Divertissement (2008) [...] Both these piece are dedicated to the Duo Alterno and the colour and the Rock style is interesting in the last one [...] The last two pieces of the CD are by Piacentini. They are the live recording of the concert kept in Milan at the Teatro Dal Verme on Novembre 2010. Canson piemontèisa [Piedmont song] on anonymous text is an original and lucky orchestral trascript by Piacentini of a popular melody by Piedmont. The melancholic atmosphere at the beginning is then invigorated through an orchestral writing with many Mahler's suggestions and also references to Berio's transcripts. The three following pieces too, from Quattro canzóne napulitane [Four Neapolitan songs] (2010) on Donizetti's songs show the good skills in orchestration by Piacentini that joins to his piano cleverness timbric choices that are meaningful and expressive. Always fine Scandaletti. A various and organic CD because of the optimum choice in the music material [...] A CD to buy.” (Cesare Guzzardella)


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