Review By James M. Keller,High Fidelity,November 2010
If you choose to ignore Pizzetti’s Piano Trio, I don’t blame you; but in so doing, you’ll be passing up a composition that boasts considerable charms. Gatti’s book proclaims that the work “is permeated with the joy he feels at a newly-found domestic happiness.” He continues: “In this work the melody broadens and develops with a continuity that is undisturbed by pauses or hesitations. The characteristic melancholy patches of colour have disappeared and the sky is serene to the farthest point of the horizon. There are no dark corners; the light penetrates in every direction; we think of a man waking up after a restless, tortured sleep and raising a hymn of thanksgiving to God.” The musicologist John C.G. Waterhouse, who provided
Gatti’s description does suggest an essential aspect of the piece, although I’m less sure than he is that melancholy is entirely eradicated. All thee movements are of slow or moderate tempo, except for a stretch of vivace in the finale; but even that is only quick through the overlay of figuration, and its movement remains essentially placid. That finale, by the way, carries the title “Rapsodia di Settembre,” possibly (Waterhouse speculates) alluding to some incident that cemented the composer’s relationship with Rirì. In any case, this relaxed trio shows something of the sustained, tensile quality we find in Gabriel Fauré; or perhaps a composer of the next level down, such as Reynaldo Hahn, would be a more accurate comparison. Themes are finely wrought but not ultimately memorable. Still, the piece casts a pleasant spell redolent of twilight.
The Naxos musicians…show a harder edge. I suspect this emanates at least in part from the personal style of the violinist, whose playing strikes me as unsettled and not always precise. They seem intent on moving the music along, an understandable impulse given its laid-back character. The Naxos CD also includes the Tre Canti, here played on violin rather than cello (the composer authorized either option); but, again, the violin-playing tends toward wildness in music that is esthetically disciplined. Completing this disc is Pizzetti’s Violin Sonata (from 1918–19), an end-of-war-time piece that is sometimes more edgy; but even here Pizzetti’s inclinations seem at heart lyrical.