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Born in 1961, the Italian composer Raffaelle Bellafronte has produced a wide-ranging body of work in a modern tonal idiom. Previous albums of concertos, guitar music and chamber works paint a portrait of a lively mind and a personal voice embracing large dramatic gestures and lyric reflection, each as quintessentially 'Italian' in their expression as the other. The set of 12 Preludes opens with a magnificently imposing evocation of stillness, colored by the kind of bittersweet harmonies to be found in Bartok and the sense of musical space associated with Messiaen, building a surprisingly complete soundworld within the brief space of three minutes. The remaining preludes are no less ingenious in their economy of mood and gesture. Melancholy and frenzy alternate; glittering and asymmetrical rhythms stand in stark opposition to slow ostinato figurations; dense contrapuntal writing is cast against terse homophony. Bellafronte trained as a pianist himself, and he composes for the full spectrum of the instrument's heroic and sensual possibilities. There is a satisfying crunch to the harmonies and immediately appreciable breadth of vision to the opening paragraphs of the Sonata Prima DĂ©saccord (2006), where contrapuntal and propulsive ostinato writing combine to pull the listener through a compelling narrative which feels longer than it's 12-minute duration. From three years later, the Second Sonata experiments with a Haydnesque binary form of two quick movements - a nervous, lopsided march followed by a frustrated would-be fugue with a brutal and macabre conclusion. The Third Sonata (2014) is the most substantial piece here in both duration and ambition, launched with a momentum worthy of BartĂłk or Alkan. The quick-slow-quick form is superficially conventional, but it encloses a wealth of surprising excursions which challenge tonal stability and once more pitch the listener into a pianistic tumult.
Born in 1961, the Italian composer Raffaelle Bellafronte has produced a wide-ranging body of work in a modern tonal idiom. Previous albums of concertos, guitar music and chamber works paint a portrait of a lively mind and a personal voice embracing large dramatic gestures and lyric reflection, each as quintessentially 'Italian' in their expression as the other. The set of 12 Preludes opens with a magnificently imposing evocation of stillness, colored by the kind of bittersweet harmonies to be found in Bartok and the sense of musical space associated with Messiaen, building a surprisingly complete soundworld within the brief space of three minutes. The remaining preludes are no less ingenious in their economy of mood and gesture. Melancholy and frenzy alternate; glittering and asymmetrical rhythms stand in stark opposition to slow ostinato figurations; dense contrapuntal writing is cast against terse homophony. Bellafronte trained as a pianist himself, and he composes for the full spectrum of the instrument's heroic and sensual possibilities. There is a satisfying crunch to the harmonies and immediately appreciable breadth of vision to the opening paragraphs of the Sonata Prima DĂ©saccord (2006), where contrapuntal and propulsive ostinato writing combine to pull the listener through a compelling narrative which feels longer than it's 12-minute duration. From three years later, the Second Sonata experiments with a Haydnesque binary form of two quick movements - a nervous, lopsided march followed by a frustrated would-be fugue with a brutal and macabre conclusion. The Third Sonata (2014) is the most substantial piece here in both duration and ambition, launched with a momentum worthy of BartĂłk or Alkan. The quick-slow-quick form is superficially conventional, but it encloses a wealth of surprising excursions which challenge tonal stability and once more pitch the listener into a pianistic tumult.
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Born in 1961, the Italian composer Raffaelle Bellafronte has produced a wide-ranging body of work in a modern tonal idiom. Previous albums of concertos, guitar music and chamber works paint a portrait of a lively mind and a personal voice embracing large dramatic gestures and lyric reflection, each as quintessentially 'Italian' in their expression as the other. The set of 12 Preludes opens with a magnificently imposing evocation of stillness, colored by the kind of bittersweet harmonies to be found in Bartok and the sense of musical space associated with Messiaen, building a surprisingly complete soundworld within the brief space of three minutes. The remaining preludes are no less ingenious in their economy of mood and gesture. Melancholy and frenzy alternate; glittering and asymmetrical rhythms stand in stark opposition to slow ostinato figurations; dense contrapuntal writing is cast against terse homophony. Bellafronte trained as a pianist himself, and he composes for the full spectrum of the instrument's heroic and sensual possibilities. There is a satisfying crunch to the harmonies and immediately appreciable breadth of vision to the opening paragraphs of the Sonata Prima DĂ©saccord (2006), where contrapuntal and propulsive ostinato writing combine to pull the listener through a compelling narrative which feels longer than it's 12-minute duration. From three years later, the Second Sonata experiments with a Haydnesque binary form of two quick movements - a nervous, lopsided march followed by a frustrated would-be fugue with a brutal and macabre conclusion. The Third Sonata (2014) is the most substantial piece here in both duration and ambition, launched with a momentum worthy of BartĂłk or Alkan. The quick-slow-quick form is superficially conventional, but it encloses a wealth of surprising excursions which challenge tonal stability and once more pitch the listener into a pianistic tumult.
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