CRISTIAN CARRARA: Liber Mundi – Francesco D’Orazio, violin/ Angela Nisi, soprano/ Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic/ Matthieu Mantanus, conductor – Arts multichannel SACD 47759-8, 54:25 [Distr. by Albany] **:
Carrara, a young Italian composer, has created a quasi-sacred work that is divided into seven sections that could also serve as individual pieces as well: Mater, Face to Face, Liber Mundi, Tales from the Underground, A Peace Overture, and East West Romance. Each piece features either string orchestra, orchestra with violin (most of the movements), or soprano with orchestra. The accompanying parts are strictly concertante, not concerto at all, and have a sort of Lark Ascending feel to them. The zealously over-effusive notes claim that Carrara is an avowed tonalist, fighting fiercely again the demon atonalists of yesteryear, trying to “win back this simple clarity which had been driven back under the wrong dictate of the avant-garde.”
I am not sure where he has been, but 1) this fight was won a long time ago by a number of highly-skilled tonal composers still doing their thing, and 2) things were never so simple before as what his music presents us here. I hate to say it, especially since the motives seem so very healthy, but this downbeat-heavy, plodding, ponderous, completely uninteresting music wouldn’t win me away from one bar of the most intensive piece by Schoenberg. It’s Hovhaness meets the slowest piece Philip Glass ever composed, and without the underlying contrapuntal and harmonic interest. Honestly I don’t know who might be interested in this music—it’s just not very original, memorable, or skillfully crafted, but might better serve as a film background where not much happens.
The sound is superb, as on most Arts releases, though the violinist seems to have a few intonation issues along the way. The soprano role is nicely turned in Liber Mundi, maybe the best cut on the disc. The rest is simply faux-dramatics, music that quite frankly seems rather amateurish in nature. Maybe history will prove me wrong, or Carrara’s next disc; we shall see.
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