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Respighi and Pizzetti Sonatas

Both the Pizzetti and Respighi Sonatas performed here on the CD are

particularly significant to me. My attachment to the Respighi stems from the

countless number of times I listened to the inimitable recorded

performance of the work by the awe-inspiring Jascha Heifetz in my

childhood years. It is a piece which was and remains to this day

infrequently performed. Why this is so remains a mystery to me since it

displays all the characteristics of a composer with a great craft and vivid

imagination. Furthermore, having seriously studied the violin, Respighi

fully exploits his knowledge of the instrument in the virtuosic flourishes

and tonal magnificence inherent in this work.

Ildebrando Pizzetti¹s Sonata for Violin and Piano, an even more neglected

work, came to my attention through the very poignant performance by Yehudi

and Hephzibah Menuhin recorded in 1938 for HMV records. Upon hearing this

piece for the first time I was immediately moved by the intensely

impassioned drama and sorrowful quality of the work. The fact that this

masterpiece has suffered more than fifty years of neglect remains an

unsolved puzzle. In coupling these works together on this recording I hope

to restore to the serious music listening public an appreciation of two

unduly neglected masterpieces of the sonata literature.

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) was born into a very musical family. His

grandfather was a violinist and organist in Bologna and his father taught

piano at the Liceo Musicale in that same city. His father introduced him to

the piano at an early age and by the time he was twelve his unique musical

gifts were evident enough that he was enrolled in the Liceo. While there he

studied the violin with Federico Sarti and composition with Luigi Torchi and

Guiseppe Martucci. After he graduated with a diploma in violin in 1899 he

left Italy to travel and study and broaden his musical horizon. His first

destination was St. Petersburg, Russia where he worked as a violinist in the

orchestra of the St. Petersburg Opera House. At the same time he studied

composition with Rimsky-Korsakov. Two years later Respighi left Russia to go

to Berlin where he completed his study of composition with Max Bruch.

Between 1903 and 1908 Respighi returned to the concert stage performing as a

concert violinist as well as playing viola in the Mugellini Quartet. He was

also ambitiously composing. In this period he wrote his first opera, Re

Enzo, a notturno for orchestra, and several songs for voice.

In 1908 Respighi returned to Berlin to teach piano for one year in a private

school. Upon returning to Italy he became one of the most important and

dramatic figures among Italian musicians. He was appointed professor of

composition at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome, toured extensively as a

conductor programming his own pieces and achieved major success with works

such as Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome, and the opera Belfagor. In 1923 he

was appointed director of the Santa Cecilia Academy. In 1925 he visited the

United States for the first time, performing with the New York Philharmonic

as a pianist in his Concerto in the Mixolydian Mode. He was engaged by many

other American orchestras during that season and returned on several other

occasions thereafter. By this time, Respighi had established himself in all

parts of the musical world as one of the major composers of his time. In

1932 Respighi was nominated to the Royal Academy of Italy.

Respighi¹s compositional style looks both to the past and to the future. He

was primarily a neo-classicist who was partial to old modes, chants and

classical forms. But what he is most known and appreciated for as a

composer is his tremendous ability to utilize to the fullest, vibrant

contemporary harmony and orchestration to create a vivid imagery.

Orchestral texture certainly plays its part in the Sonata for Violin and

Piano. Even though only two instruments are involved, the musical gesture

and sweep of the writing suggests a tonal experience of much larger scope.

Throughout the piece dynamic contrast is used to its extreme limit and the

dramatic elements of the work depend greatly on the development of

both instruments.

Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968) was born to a musical family in Parma,

Italy. His father, Odvardo Pizzetti was a pianist and was his son¹s first

teacher. He received his musical education at the Conservatorium of Parma

where he studied with Giovanni Tebaldini. Pizzetti, like his

contemporary Respighi, was greatly influenced by the music of the past.

As a result of his early association with Tebaldini, he developed a serious

interest in studying Italian music of the 15th and 16th centuries as well as

cultivating his own personal interest in Gregorian chant and music of the

medieval period. These influences are strongly represented in much of

Pizzetti¹s compositions.

Pizzetti taught at the Conservatory of Parma, the Conservatory of Milan, and

the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. He was primarily known for his operas

and choral works. At the height of his career, the most

prominent Italian music critic Guido Gatti proclaimed Pizzetti ³doubtless

the greatest musician in Italy today,² a rather powerful statement

considering that Puccini was still alive.

Pizzetti¹s only sonata for violin and piano is an intensely dramatic work.

Written between 1918 and 1919 the work deals with strong humanistic

concerns. As in his opera Debora e Jaele (composed from 1915 to 1921

and premiered in 1922) Pizzetti is deeply involved with the torments of war.

The strong emotional impact of the first movement is portrayed through an

almost pleading, crying character in the violin while the

independent themes in the piano dwell on more turbulent repetitive motifs.

The second movement, entitled Preghiera per gl¹innocenti (prayer for the

innocents) is a passionate expression of grief. The character of the opening

themes suggests an almost pleading quality for God to grant pity on those

who have suffered. In this movement one is also distinctly aware of

Pizzetti¹s closeness to early religious music. The opening theme¹s strong

resemblance to early religious chant is most evident. Only in the last

movement does the veil of sadness and tragedy lift to give way to a rebirth

of optimism; a possible light at the end of a dark tunnel. Composed in a

rondo-like structure, Pizzetti introduces a variety of interesting new

material, themes light and airy, some rustic in character and yet others

possessing an almost impressionistic flavor. The movement closes in an

exciting burst of musical energy, as if almost to suggest that time

eventually heals all pain and suffering.

- Elmar Oliveira


Elmar Oliveira, violin

Elmar Oliveira has taken his place as one of the most

commanding violinists of our time, with his unsurpassed

combination of impeccable artistry and old-world elegance. Mr. Oliveira is

one of a few major artists committed to the entire spectrum of the violin

world ­ constantly expanding the

traditional repertoire boundaries as a champion of

contemporary music and rarely heard works of the past,

devoting energy to the development of the young artists of tomorrow, and

enthusiastically supporting the art of modern violin and bow makers.

Among his generation¹s most honored artists, Elmar Oliveira remains the

first and only American violinist to

win the Gold Medal at Moscow¹s Tchaikovsky International Competition. He is

also the only violinist to receive the

coveted Avery Fisher Prize, in addition to capturing First

Prizes at the Naumberg International Competition and the G.B. Dealey


Mr. Oliveira¹s rigorous itinerary includes the Chicago, Boston, San

Francisco, National, Seattle, Dallas, Baltimore, New Zealand, St. Louis,

Pittsburgh and London Symphonies; the Cleveland, Leipzig Gewandhaus,

Minnesota, Zurich Tonhalle, and Philadelphia Orchestras; and the New York,

Los Angeles, and London Philharmonics. He has toured the Far East, South

America, and Australia.

Mr. Oliveira¹s repertoire is among the most diverse of any of today¹s

pre-eminent artists. He has

premiered works by such distinguished composers as Morton Gould, Ezra

Laderman, Charles Wuorinen, Joan Tower, Andrzej Panufnik, Benjamin Lees,

Nicholas Flagello, Leonard Rosenman, Hugh Aitken, Richard Yardumian, and

Krzysztof Penderecki. He has also performed seldom heard concerti by Alberto

Ginastera, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Joseph Joachim, and many others.

A prodigious recording artist, Elmar Oliveira is a two time Grammy

nominee for his CD of the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint

Louis Symphony. His best selling new recording of the Rautavaara Violin

Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic has won him tremendous acclaim,

including the 1998 Cannes Classical Award and Gramophone¹s ³Editor¹s

Choice². Two current,

historically significant recordings feature Mr. Oliveira: The Miracle

Makers, for which he performs on thirty great Stradivari and Guarneri del

Gesu violins, and a compact disc highlighting the Library of Congress¹ rare

violin collection.

Elmar Oliveira performs on an instrument known as the ³Lady Stretton,²

made by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu in 1726.


Robert Koenig, Piano

Born in Canada, pianist Robert Koenig began his formal training at the

Vancouver Academy of Music and later studied at the Banff Centre for the

Arts and the Academie Musicale di Chigiana in Italy. He received both his

bachelor¹s and master¹s degrees in

accompanying from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he

studied privately with Dr. Vladimir Sokoloff and

chamber music with Felix Galimir and Karen Tuttle. He has appeared at many

festivals, including Aspen, Ravinia, Banff, the Campos do Jordao Festival in

Brazil and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. European engagements have

included performances in London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, Munich and Moscow,

while in Asia he has appeared at Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the National

Theater of Taipei. Recent performances in the U.S. have won him applause in

Lincoln Center¹s Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in

Washington, D.C., and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. He is also

frequently heard on radio and television including the CBC Network in

Canada, WQXR Radio in New York, the BBC in London, and ABC¹s Good Morning

America. Past summers have seen him in residence at the Aspen Music

Festival, where he served as staff accompanist for Dorothy DeLay and her

associates. During the year, he continues his position with DeLay at The

Juilliard School.


Ottorino Respighi

Sonata for violin and piano in b minor

1. Moderato 8:47

2. Andante espressivo 8:34

3. Passacaglia Allegro moderato 6:52

ma energico

Ildebrando Pizzetti

Sonata for violin and piano in A major

4. Tempestoso 12:36

5. Preghiera per gl¹innocenti 8:46

molto largo

6. Vivo e Fresco 9:01


Recorded on April 10, 1998

Producer: Laura Harth Rodriguez

Engineer: Francisco Rodriguez

Graphic Design: Jim Manly

Cover Painting: Piero Sadun - ³Profonditi di Spazi²

Painting Photo: Berit Schumann

Special Thanks: Regis Iandiorio, Jill Jaffe

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