Ermitage - 1 CD - ERM 117 - (c) 1991

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Quartetto in re minore, KV 421
23' 55"
- Allegro 5' 13"

- Andante 5' 10"

- Minuetto: Allegro 3' 59"

- Allegro ma non troppo
9' 33"

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Quartetto in fa maggiore, Op. 96 "Americano"
24' 01"
- Allegro
6' 49"

- Lento 8' 14"

- Molto vivace 3' 45"

- Finale: Vivace ma non troppo
5' 13"

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Quartetto in fa maggiore
28' 29"
- Modéré - Très doux
8' 17"

- Assez vif - Très rythmé
6' 23"

- Très lent
8' 34"

- Agité 5' 15"

- Paolo Borciani, Elisa Pegreffi, violino
- Piero Farulli, viola
- Franco Rossi, violoncello


Luogo e data di registrazione
Collegio Papio, Ascona (Svizzera) - 10 settembre 1968

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer
Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana/Rete 2 | Lucien Rosset | Jochen Gottschall | Alberto Spano

Prima Edizione LP

Prima Edizione CD
Ermitage | ERM 117 | 1 CD - 76' 37" | (c) 1991 | ADD

Cover: Guido Reni (1575-1642) "Il trionfo di Giobbe". Parigi, Notre Dame.

In choosing their approach to Ravel, the Trio di Trieste and the Quartetto Italiano indirectly followed the teachings of Alfredo Casella, Ravel’s long-time friend and partner in the world premiere of the two-piano version of La Valse, and of Victor de Sabata, conductor of the world premiere of L’enfant et les sortiléges and celebrated interpreter of Bolero. The two Italian ensembles based the reading of all of their repertoire on the timbric finesse of Ravel, on the reliance of sound as supporting structure. For the Quartetto Italiano, the Bagatelles of Webern and the Grosse Fugue of Beethoven were also determinant influences, but they never forsook their initial grounding in Ravel, even when the compass pointed toward a more direct experience with Viennese culture.
The Italian instrumental groups that quickly gained international fame were formed in a period of national isolation: the campaign to colonize Ethiopia, the alliance with Germany, and then the war, had limited the presence of international ensembles in Italy, and had at first made difficult, and then blocked, foreign travel by young musicians. Paradoxically, this isolation turned into opportunity and advantage, because within these narrowed horizons and reduced stimuli lay the age-old rapport with French culture, and Ravel. To my mind, this situation allowed, practically forced, the Quartetto Italiano and the Trio di Trieste to work out a cultural point of view based on a re-thinking and an in-depth study of Italian tradition, without the direct imitation and eclectic diversion that would have made their maturation much slower. They even played from memory, these young musicians of the Trio di Trieste and the Quartetto Italiano, but this was far from being a sign of ostentatious exhibitionism: rather, it was a sign of their unrelenting work to master a repertoire that was for all practical purposes foreign, and that had no cultural equivalent in Italy. So, with Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, and Puccini behind them, but without a Haydn, a Beethoven, a Schumann, or a Brahms, the Trio di Trieste and the Quartetto Italiano performed the miracle of proposing, and having the world accept, an interpretive style that was born in the Italian cultural provinces without appearing provincial.
I haven’t mentioned Mozart, because here there could have been a direct rapport via the Italian texts of his operas. Mozart’s operas, on the whole, weren’t exactly popular in the Italy of 1935-1945. But at least Don Giovanni represented a myth and, hearing the Quartetto Italiano perform the Quartet in d minor K. 421, one can’t help but notice sublimation of the theater - especially in the unexpected D major conclusion, heartrending rather than consoling. The Quartetto Italiano thus found, in the covert presence of Mozart and in the overt cultural presence of Ravel, secure reference points on a perilous voyage to all of the world’s cultural ports. So the excellence of their Mozart and Ravel in the Lugano concert shouldn’t really cause us to marvel. But that strange marriage of old Bohemia and young New World that is Dvorak’s Quartet op. 96 does require comment.
When playing Dvorak`s Quartet with "natural" musicality, one inevitably falls into nationalistic sentimentality. The Quartetto Italiano knows that this nationalistic aesthetic is there in the Dvorak Quartet, and doesn’t dismiss it: just listen to how the sound of the finale's second theme recalls a homespun violin-accordion duet, or how the third theme recalls a country church organ. Above and beyond some anecdotal details, which add "local color" and which are neither eliminated nor glossed over, the Quartetto Italiano bases its interpretation on timbric polyphony, passing from a perspective ordering of musical events to a simultaneity of different events which co-exist, not by virtue of a hierarchic order, but by pre-established harmony. It is no longer a quartet, but a conversation in Arcadia, in which even the most humble voice arouses interest and is treated with loving respect. From country music to Arcadia... Dvorak’s dream at the end of the 19th century, and our’s at the end of the 20th, for it seems that each century’s end gives voice to impossible dreams.
Piero Rattalino
(Translated from Italian by Eric Siegel)