Bruno Maderna (1920-73) was one of the most influential figures in the Italian musical scene after the 2nd World War. Imprisoned briefly by the SS during the war, he joined the antifascist partisans, he studied first with Malipiero, and then in Darmstadt in the late 1940s. A fellow pupil here was his friend Luciano Berio. The two young composers were exposed to the music of Webern, Messiaen, Varèse, Boulez and Stockhausen. He studied conducting with Hermann Scherchen who was an established champion of modern music.
The works on this CD show the composer’s mature style to great effect. Quadrivium for 4 percussionists and 4 orchestral groups has echoes of the antiphonal, spatial writing devices used by Gabrieli – Maderna himself was Venetian. It is a brilliant tour de force for the performers.
Aura is composed for a very large orchestra including a string section of 54 players. ‘Aura is the essence of things, the essence of sound, and something like the aroma which pervades a room from the chicken cooking in the pot’ said Maderna of this complex work in which the vast orchestra is used with a chamber music delicacy.
Finally, Biogramma can be seen as a musical portrait of a human being – moral, physiology, character - a life story of a person. It has been suggested that this work is his musical autobiography. As with Aura there is something distinctly Venetian about the sound world – the antiphonal effects, and rich textures and harmonies.
Recording made in 1979.
New booklet essay by 20th-century music authority Malcolm Macdonald.
‘Aura is a fine achievement, its final unaffected flute melody the perfect response to the sustained, aspiring intensity that has gone before’ Gramophone