The Art-Music Forum

Little-known music of all eras => Discussion of obscure composers => Topic started by: Gauk on May 13, 2019, 10:04:13 pm

Title: Mario Pilati
Post by: Gauk on May 13, 2019, 10:04:13 pm
I was browsing Spotify the other day, and came across a CD of the music of Mario Pilati, starting with the Concerto for Orchestra. It didn't mean much to me until I played it and it was then VERY familiar. Of course, I have the CD, and had just forgotten about it; such are the perils of age. I remember now looking up the composer's life history after discovering him for the first time.

My mother was fond of the music of Alan Rawsthorne, and particularly praised the 2nd piano concerto. She would point with approval to how the composer gets straight on with the job, opening the work with the first subject, without any messing around with portentous introductions. Pilati's Concerto for Orchestra is like that - the work opens at once with the first subject, which is a huge tune that can really stick in your mind. How audiences would love it if it could ever be got into the concert hall! It's quite surprising it hasn't been nicked to front a TV series. (Or maybe it has - I wouldn't know!)

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: adriano on May 29, 2019, 07:40:09 am
Thanks, Gauk, for this posting :-)
The main theme of Prokofiev's First Piano Concerto could also be such a "huge tune" example.
I actually recorded Pilati's complete works for orchestra (on 2 CDs). The second volume was published by another label (Inedita), which, in the meantime closed down. Naxos did not want to continue with Pilati. A few months ago I was able to re-propose this project to them, which means that this CD will be reissued on Naxos by the end of this year.
Try also Pilati's magnificent Piano Quintet, which is also available on Naxos: a masterwork!

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Dundonnell on May 30, 2019, 04:42:10 pm
I listened again to the Pilati disc from Naxos containing the Concerto for Orchestra. Pleasant music, tuneful, amiable but nothing to convince me that he stands in the same league as Respighi or Malipiero or Pizzetti and I do have to, respectfully, question the description of him as "a genius". There is nothing on this cd which can convince me of that.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: adriano on May 31, 2019, 07:23:15 am
@ Dundonnell
After all, it's a matter of taste :-)

But I respect your judgement, since already before you there were two MusicWeb reviewers of the same opinion:

"I think it is wrong to give way to the temptation to present Pilati in terms of the romantic archetype of the genius who died young. The Swiss conductor Adriano talks of him in rather those terms in the booklet note to this CD. But that, I think, is to inflate Pilati and his music in ways which may actually do him a disservice by leading to false expectations. On the evidence of these orchestral works, Pilati was a very competent, mature composer, whose work is marked by high craftsmanship and by an eclectic openness to influences – but not by the kind of individuality and originality one might reasonably think to be amongst the hallmarks of genius."

"The curiously mono-nomenclatured conductor, Adriano, also writes the extensive programme notes for this CD. This he does passionately and with considerable persuasion, but he says (and this is quite likely to put listeners off), Pilati’s output "over a period of only eighteen years is already full of surprises and of great maturity, leading the present writer not to hesitate in regarding him as a genius."

Nevertheless, the "curiously mono-nomenclatured conductor" holds his opinion (apparently, the reviewer had never heard of Solomon or Midori). He certainly does not consider him a genius because he died young, but he considers Pilati's stylistic volatility and technical skills as ingenious. And his instrumentations are as virtuous as Ravel's.

Listen to another masterwork: his String Quintet - this may improve your judgement.
In my opinion, to like - or better understand - Pilati's music it also requires a good sense of humour and a large portion of "italianità".

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Dundonnell on May 31, 2019, 09:19:08 pm
As you, perfectly properly, point out it is indeed a matter of taste.

I can claim no more acquaintance than the single disc on Naxos of the orchestral music. I am however a huge fan of Respighi whose music beyond the "Roman Trilogy" deserves much wider exposure. Fortunately we do have virtually all of Respighi's orchestral music on disc. Rich, colourful, powerful, beautiful music which never fails to delight the ears.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Gauk on June 01, 2019, 06:24:16 pm
However, suppose you only knew the music Respighi wrote before the age of 35 (the age Pilati died). Would you say the same thing? There would be no Roman Trilogy, for instance.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Dundonnell on June 01, 2019, 09:51:03 pm
However, suppose you only knew the music Respighi wrote before the age of 35 (the age Pilati died). Would you say the same thing? There would be no Roman Trilogy, for instance.

If I only knew the works Respighi wrote before he was 35 then I would know:

1898-99:Biblical Oratorio “Christus” for tenor, baritone, bass, chorus and orchestra  (Claves cd)
1900:   Symphonic Variations for orchestra    (Marco Polo cd)
1901:   Prelude, Chorale and Fugue for orchestra   (Marco Polo and Chandos cds)
1901/03:Suite in E major for orchestra   (Marco Polo cd)
1902:   Suite for strings  (Naxos cd)
           Piano Concerto in A minor   (Chandos cd)
1902-05:Suite in G major for string orchestra and organ   (Koch cd)
1903:   Violin Concerto in A major  (Naxos cd)
1904:   Serenade for small orchestra  (Naxos cd)
1906:   Burlesca for orchestra   (Marco Polo and Chandos cds)
1907:   “Fantasia Slava” for Piano and Orchestra   (Chandos cd)
1908:   “Concerto All’Antica” for Violin and Orchestra in A minor  (Claves cd)
            Chaconne for Violin, organ and strings  (Claves cd)
             Pastorale for Violin and Strings  (Claves cd)
1910-11:Poem “Arethusa” for mezzo-soprano and orchestra   (CPO cd)
1913:   “Ouverture Carnevalesca”   (Marco Polo cd)

That is quite a substantial body of music on which to base an estimate of Respighi's skill as an orchestrator and of his future promise.

The other point to make is that Respighi belonged to a particular generation of Italian composers each born within a few years of each other: Respighi (1879), Pizzetti (1880), Malipiero (1882), Casella (1883).

Pilati, born in 1903, belonged to the generation which produced Dallapiccola and Petrassi (both 1904). Whether his music would have developed in response to their influence or that of other European composers we will never know. It is no criticism that the music we do know (or at least I have heard) from his short life sounds more like that of the composers of an earlier generation. Taken on its own merits the music I have heard is undoubtedly attractive. Whether we can base too many conclusions about the composer's standing I am not sure about.


Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: adriano on June 02, 2019, 08:29:55 am
Thanks for these recent postings on Respighi.
But you must consider that this "youthful" list contains practically all "influenced" works. One hears music influenced by Russian and French composers, they are (eventhough highly interesting and techincally perfect) not typically Respighi yet. Even he himself admitted that he had become Respighi with "Fountains of Rome". In "Aretusa", incidentally, he already pre-quotes in a short passage the Trevi Fountain music.
He confined these works to a big suitcase, which I had the honour of opening upon permission by Elsa Respighi - and so it was decided that, in spite of the composer's forbidding, that they were given free for performances and recordings.
Among these, his opera "Marie Victoire" (1914) also figured. I could borrow the huge volumes of the original MS for display at my 1979 Respighi Exhibition at the Lucerne Festival. Between 1990 and 1995 I struggled like a madman to have it recorded on Marco Polo, but they were not interested. Klaus Heymann's usual remark: "too obscure!" It had to wait until 2004 to be produced at the Rome Opera and until 2009 to be recorded (live from Berlin) by cpo. The Rome responsible boasted himself for this "discovery" - but it was me who had decided - already in 1980 - that the manuscript should be score copied and published by Ricordi, since it is a very valuable work (actually based on a French libretto!).

The group of composers Respighi, Pizzetti, Malipiero and Casella is called "Generazione dell'Ottanta" (the - 1880 -"Eighties' Generation"). Casella and Alfano are also belonging to it.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Dundonnell on June 02, 2019, 03:56:04 pm
We owe you a very considerable debt for all your efforts in making so many of these early works available on disc! Yes, they are derivative but no less enjoyable for all that.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: adriano on June 02, 2019, 06:04:17 pm
Thanks very much indeed!
Unfortunately I was not allowed to continue with Respighi on Marco Polo... It was very difficult to get along with Klaus Heymann. Still I could record 30 CDs for his labels...
The first edition of my "International Respighi Discography" (which was published in 1979) listed 264 recorded works (on 78s and LPs), not counting LP reissues of 78s.
The second edition of 1996 already listed 834 items (including CDs). At present, my database lists over 1400 items! It's crazy! Still, there are simply too many recordings of his Roman Triology and Ancient Airs and Dances. Very few are really top recordings...

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Gauk on July 14, 2019, 10:37:00 pm
I think my point stands. Would those youthful works by Respighi be remembered at all if Respighi had died aged 35? I suspect not. We only have recordings of them today because Respighi is famous on account of what he went on to become.

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: adriano on July 15, 2019, 07:58:27 am
I am not so sure about that, Gauk :-)
For example Respighi's early violin sonata, quartets and songs. Then we have some quite valuable orchestral pieces, including "Burlesca", which is quite a little masterwork! And what about "Fantasia slava", the A minor Piano Concerto and the "Concerto all'antica" for violin? His opera "Semirâma" also figured in that "not-to-be-performed"-drawer (although it was composed at the age of 31)! And a few years ago, his earliest opera "Re Enzo" was performed with considerable success. Some musicologists also consider his cantata "Christus" a very valubale work. And what about all those transcriptions of Baroque violin pieces and his extremaly successful "Lamento d'Arianna" (after Monteverdi)?

Title: Re: Mario Pilati
Post by: Gauk on July 16, 2019, 10:55:54 am
I don't doubt that they are fine works. But I suggest that we only know of them because Respighi became famous after his Roman triptych. Without that, those early works would languish with the many fine works by many fine composers who never "hit the big time".

Even then, it doesn't always work - witness the number of composers famous for one work which is frequently performed, and seemingly no-one ever asks "what else did he write?" I make an exception for M. Canteloube, where the answer is (besides the Songs of the Auvergne), almost nothing.