Enchanting music from a genius
Mark McCue | Denver | 07/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's now all the rage for writers to rave about Malipiero's masterful quartets and rate them up there with those of Bartok.That's a pretty fair argument except to point out that Malipiero has more range and was in many ways more original than Bartok. Twenty years ago you couldn't get the same writers to even acknowledge Malipiero as one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century, which he most surely was.The Veneziano wraps around these works in performances so organic, so suffused with light and mood, that the competing survey by the Orpheus seems cold and glassy by comparison. The Orpheus hangs onto the Bartok comparison so much that it seems to be trying to make an argument for Bartok having written these quartets, too. It's a fine set in its way, but with nothing like the effect of the Venetian players. Somehow, I think the Veneziano studied these works in far more detail.Of even greater note: the Veneziano captures fully the poise and utter elegance of these great works, an elegance that was so much a part of Malipiero's idiom and his native Venice. It recorded in a studio, but it somehow conjures the autumnal shadows of a Palladian gazebo, white linen, flutes of sparkling Prosecco, and handmade pasta on lovely old silver. By comparison, the Orpheus is curt and urban, with the strident atmosphere of a stand up tavola calda with bites between gulps of espresso from a paper cup. While the Veneziano is out around Vicenza in a villa garden, the Orpheus is squarely at Santa Lucia railway station wondering why the elletromotrice for Milan is late yet again. I'd prefer to not be on that kind of tight schedule with Malipero.As usual with Dynamic, the sound takes into account the personality of the venue, and the instrumental blend is lean, light, and reflective of the ensemble's immaculate technique. The label may well have some of the finest recording engineers in the world. If you want to hear more of their work, listen to what they've gotten in Lecce and Milan in recordings of Casella's music. The result is enrapturing. If you pick one set of the Malipiero quartets, get this Venetian one. It's a wonderful investment that will bring untold richness to you."