The third volume in Christopher Hogwood's Klassizistische Moderne series for Arte Nova is a balanced presentation of three comparable works from the 1920s; one is a famous masterpiece, though the other two are respectable, if more obscure, efforts. A defining work of neo-classicism, Igor Stravinsky's Pulcinella is based on lively themes by Giovanni Pergolesi and other, more obscure eighteenth century composers, but these are altered with spicy dissonances, irregular melodic fragmentation, and peculiarities of orchestration that give the work its quirky modern character. This witty ballet displays the stylistic appropriation and rewriting that are hallmarks of Stravinsky's "objective" middle period; Pulcinella's game playing makes it an ideal vehicle for Hogwood and the Basel Chamber Orchestra, who seem to thrive on such intellectually challenging fare. The Ricercari for 11 instruments by Gian Francesco Malipiero and Alfredo Casella's Scarlattiana for piano and chamber orchestra, Op. 44, are likewise mentally stimulating for their clever adaptations of Baroque and Classical styles and techniques. They are both good-natured in tone, with more than a little coloristic appeal; listeners may like them almost as much as they will love the suite from Pulcinella. These seldom-played charmers are well-served in Hogwood's crisply articulated, brightly hued renditions, and the sound quality is fine, though a little soft in Scarlattiana.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pulcinella, suite for orchestra|
|Ricercari, for 11 instruments|
|Scarlattiana for piano & chamber orchestra, Op. 44|