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Ponchielli: Piano Music

Ponchielli: Piano Music

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Charming salon miniatures and a grand funeral march by the verismo composer of La Gioconda. Ponchielli’s career developed during a rapidly evolving era in Italian musical culture that posterity squeezed him between Verdi on the one hand and his own students, Mascagni and Puccini on the other, though he hardly lacked for popular or academic recognition in his own time. Born in 1834, Ponchielli had written a symphony by the age of 10 and started out as a bandmaster for the wind ensembles which were centres of amateur music-making in Italian towns comparable to the choirs in the UK and Germany. While Ponchielli belatedly won wider fame with I promessi sposi in 1874, his death from pneumonia in 1886 cut him off in his prime with only one acknowledged operatic masterpiece to his name: La Gioconda, Boito’s adaptation of a Victor Hugo story. However, he continued to write instrumental pieces at the height of his fame. Most of the pieces issued here were published in the 1870s and 1880s, and some of them are far more substantial than mere album-leaves. Yet they are hardly known at all; Riccardo Muti recorded an orchestration of the sombre and touching Elegia funebre from 1881, but Ester Fusar Poli’s new recording is the only available version of the piano original. Even more imposing in scale is the 16-minute Funeral March which Ponchielli wrote late in 1872 to honour the passingof the publisher Francesco Lucca. However, no Ponchielli album would be complete without a version of the ‘Dance of the Hours’ immortalised by Walt Disney’s hippos in Fantasia. Between these two poles of Ponchielli’s output, Ester Fusar Poli presents a beguiling sequence of elegies, nocturnes, polkas and tone-poems, demonstrating the composer’s expressive range and deft piano writing. An extensive essay by Gabriele Galleggiante Crisafulli considers Ponchielli’s piano output in the context of his career as a whole, making this album an important contribution to our understanding of a figure who was much more than a ‘one-work composer’.

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421969695
    • Item Number: BRI96969