Stephen Clarke

Giacinto Scelsi: The Piano Works, Vol. 4

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Of all his adventurous compositions, Giacinto Scelsi's keyboard works may be the easiest to grasp because of their strong connections with piano music of the past. In such works as Hispania (1939), the Suite No. 5 (1935), and the Suite No. 6 (1939), Scelsi explores repetitive patterns, tremolos, clusters, and complex rhythms, all characteristic of his later works, so his experiments with textures and techniques are already evident even at this early stage. Yet the influences of Debussy and Ravel are fairly obvious, particularly when the music follows more or less conventional meters and has a diatonic orientation. When Scelsi's music is more chromatic and dissonant, with angular melodic shapes and jagged rhythms, it still evokes the past, whether it is by association with the mysterious, blurred sonorities of Scriabin or the expressionistic gestures of Schoenberg. Pianist Stephen Clarke performs Scelsi's works with energy and impressive physical stamina, and his expressive abilities are much more on display in this 2010 release than they seemed on the second volume of Scelsi's piano works, which was released in 2005. Here the music allows more virtuosic playfulness and effective mood painting, whereas the previous disc contained music that emphasized novel techniques over emotion or atmosphere and seemingly constrained Clarke. Mode's sound is clear and clean, though the piano lacks immediacy.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Hispania, triptyque pour piano
1 7:11
2 10:33
3 6:17
Suite No. 5, Il Circo
4 2:10
5 1:40
6 1:48
7 1:39
8 1:22
9 2:20
10 2:03
11 2:38
12 1:52
13 2:08
Suite No. 6, I Capricci di Ty
14 1:44
15 1:30
16 2:08
17 2:49
18 1:41
19 0:59
20 2:52
21 1:49
22 1:12
23 1:00
24 1:39
25 1:37
26 0:56
27 0:45
28 3:13
blue highlight denotes track pick