Riccardo Chailly

Berio: Orchestral Transcriptions

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A leader of the avant-garde, most celebrated for his groundbreaking Sinfonia (1968), Luciano Berio is presented in a much different light on this album of his appealing orchestrations of Baroque and Classical works, vividly performed by Riccardo Chailly and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi. These colorful transcriptions and reworkings of pieces and fragments by Purcell, Bach, Boccherini, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms will, in most cases, attract listeners for their surprising accessibility and clarity. Most interesting and gratifying is Berio's concerto arrangement of Brahms' Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120, which clarinetist Fausto Ghiazza performs with suppleness and nuanced expression. Berio's arrangement is quite Brahmsian in its rich Romantic timbres and layered doublings of sections. Yet there are some experimental explorations, such as the Variations on Papageno's Aria, which, in its weird fragmentation, amounts to a theoretical analysis of Mozart's theme; and the strange breakdowns of harmony and melody that occur at the end of Bach's unfinished Contrapunctus XIX from The Art of the Fugue and the Rendering of Schubert's sketches for his last symphony in D major illustrate their incompleteness most strikingly. How seriously anyone should take Berio's transcriptions is open to debate, but they offer fascinating glimpses into his probing intellect and show him as one of the most imaginative composers of the mid-twentieth century.

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