Franco Alfano: Liriche da Tagore
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WBRi exclusive album recommendation: this is a must-have for any Rabindra Sangeet and Tagore Poetry lover.
Franco Alfano (1875-1954) is a composer whose time seems to have come at last. A greatly admired composer of vocal music in early 20th-century Italy, his reputation suffered an unjust decline due to bizarre circumstances. Lately his operas have been revived with great success and now comes this unique recording of his settings of the beautiful verses of the great poet of India, Rabindranath Tagore. The vocals are performed by Duo Alterno, Riccardo Piacentini and Tiziana Scandaletti.
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G P Padillo writes from Portland, ME, USA, "I just finished listening to Alfano's Liriche da Tagore - what absolutely remarkable songs - and (surprise!) no one is singing them today!
The songs as recorded are sung here by Tiziano Scandaletti. I must admit I'm not thrilled by the timbre or quality of her voice, but she sings the songs intelligently and what songs they are (at times she can be haunting and slightly reminiscent of Callas). Ricarrdo Piacentini is her nimble fingered accompanist who gets all of the shadings and orientalisms of the music absolutely beautifully.
The lyrics are translations of songs by Alfano's friend, the revered Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The bond these two men shared comes through in a truly unique blending of words and music that needs to be heard to be believed. I'm not kidding - this is amazing, heady, spiritual and sensual stuff.
Some may hear a hint of Debussy in the songs, but they are boldly original and Alfano's genius comes through, perhaps more clearly here than in any other works I'm familiar with of his (granted, that's not a whole lot!).
Alfano placed these songs at the top of his list "the Liriche occupy a position of no small importance, certainly not of secondary importance compared to the more complex operatic and symphonic compositions. I have always thought that a Lyric, a beautiful Lyric of course, is to a Sonata, a Quartet or a Symphony as a sonnet is to an epic poem." You'll feel that way too (at least I did).
These are exquisite pieces and I find it really quite remarkable that they are so little known. Now with this recording, (on Nuovo Era) perhaps we'll be hearing a bit of Alfano on recitals? I can't imagine a singer now wanting to sing them. I can't wait to get my hands on these scores."