The legendary pianist and conductor joins his clarinettist son and Italian musicians in music by one of Italy’s most powerfully individual living composers.
Born in 1971, Francesco Antonioni studied in Rome with Azio Corghi and then in London with Julian Anderson and George Benjamin: a formidable pedigree of teachers testifying to the strength of both his technique and his creative voice, which became internationally known in 2001 with a string quartet written for the Venice Biennale. Since then, Antonioni has gone on to assemble a substantial catalogue of fastidiously crafted works for both the stage and the concert hall.
This collection features two pieces for string orchestra, Ballata and Sull’ombra, alongside his concerto for clarinet and viola, Lights after the Thaw. Premiered in 2009, Ballata arose from a commission of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, to be conducted by Benjamin, and takes its initial inspiration from an anonymous lullaby, and a ballad by the 14th-century composer Francesco Landini. These are songs about love, seen from two opposite points, near the beginning and the end of life, and their meeting-point in this modern Ballata is bittersweet and charged with tension.
The origins of Sull’Ombra are no less distinguished. Yuri Bashmet conducted the Moscow Soloists in the premiere in 2014. Antonioni found himself moved to write it by lines of John Donne, which themselves reminded him of poetry by Eugenio Montale. The shadows here are dark indeed, though always lit with imagination, and harmony that leads the listener on, just as the concertante Lights after the Thaw draws out the intrinsically songful character of both solo instruments, in search of a point of reference amid a pervasive melancholia. There is a refined ear for harmony and texture evident in all three works, which reward attentive listening by anyone interested in the music of today.
- Francesco Antonioni, born in 1971, is an Italian composer whose orchestral works have garnered critical acclaim and captivated audiences around the world. Known for his innovative approach to composition and his ability to blend traditional and contemporary elements, Antonioni has established himself as a prominent figure.
- Antonioni's orchestral compositions are characterized by their emotional depth and intricate craftsmanship, exploring a wide range of themes, from introspective and contemplative pieces to energetic and exuberant compositions.
- Antonioni's orchestral works often incorporate elements of minimalism, blending repetition and variation to create hypnotic, evolving soundscapes. This unique approach to composition sets him apart from his contemporaries and contributes to the universal appeal of his music.
- This recording presents Ballata for 8 strings, Lights, the double concerto After The Thaw for viola, clarinet and strings, and Sull’Ombra for string orchestra.
- Played by the excellent I Solisti Aquilani, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the composer himself.