One of the leading Italian composers of the mid-20th century, Goffredo Petrassi shaped the musical materials he found around him, incorporating aspects of Renaissance choral music, Baroque forms, and the modernism of Stravinsky and Hindemith, especially in his works of the late 1930s. The balancing of these elements makes his Magnificat and Salmo IX interesting studies in the early development of his musical language, yet the overwhelming influence of Stravinsky's neo-classicism is unavoidable in these works. Curiously, the first reaction listeners may have is that Petrassi is most interesting when he is derivative, and surprisingly dull and mechanical when he isn't. There are long passages of expressionless chanting, dry imitative counterpoint, and slowly meandering connecting passages, but the music doesn't attract attention or cause much excitement, except for the pungent sforzando chords, angular melodic writing, and asymmetrical rhythms and syncopations that bring Oedipus Rex or the Symphony of Psalms to mind. The performances by Gianandrea Noseda and the Choir and Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino are probably as committed and sympathetic as these works have ever received, though listeners may find Petrassi's music hard to penetrate, despite their valiant efforts. Bearing in mind that Petrassi's later compositions are often based on serial techniques and reveal an even more austere approach to musical expression, the Salmo IX and the Magnificat may be the most accessible pieces for newcomers to start with.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Magnificat, for soprano leggero, chorus & orchestra|
|Salmo 9, in 2 parts for chorus, string orchestra, brass, percussion & 2 pianos|