Filidei and Donatoni Premieres

Filidei and Donatoni Premieres

The Rai National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tito Ceccherini, featuring pianist Maurizio Baglini, performs the world premiere of Tre Quadri, the new concerto for piano by Francesco Filidei, co-commissioned by the Milano Musica Festival, Casa da Música of Porto, and the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. Also on the program is the Italian premiere of In Cauda III by Franco Donatoni – this year marks the 20th anniversary of the composer’s death, as we noted in a previous article.

Finally we have the chance to attend the live performance, on September 22 at Teatro alla Scala in MilanTre quadri will then fly to Porto, at Casa da Música, for his Portuguese premiere in October.

The concert, highlight of the Milano Musica Festival 2020, was streamed by Rai Cultura on November 12th 2020 with closed doors. The latest decree by the Italian government once again shut down concert halls and theaters in the country but venues were not caught unprepared, and were rescheduling performances and making use of the latest technology in their determination to bring music to the people.


Francesco Filidei - Tre Quadri (2020)

Concerto per Pianoforte ed Orchestra
I - November II - Berceuse III - Quasi una Bagatella
I - November: Co-commissioned by Milano Musica, Casa da Música of Porto, International Festival of Contemporary Music "Warsaw Autumn"
III - Quasi una Bagatella: Kompositionsauftrag des Gürzenich-Orchester Köln für “Die neue Akademie“ anlässlich Beethovens 250. Geburtstag

WP streamed with no audience: 12.11.2020 Torino, Auditorium Rai
WP with audience: 21.09.2021 Milan, Teatro alla Scala

OSN Rai - Tito Ceccherini, conductor - Maurizio Baglini, piano



Composer's notes

Written in 2020, the works that comprise Tre Quadri form a concerto for piano and classical orchestra, featuring a broad first movement whose character is unstable, followed by a central andante whose gait is nearly suspended, and winding up with an allegro in the form of a scherzo.

I – November

[…] From the high, crystalline registers of the piano, irregularly following a descending chromatic scale, the low and deep registers of the orchestra are uncovered; from the imperceptible pianissimos of the strings in tremolo on the bridge, we reach through gradual crescendos a reiterating of dissonant chords in fortissimo featuring all the instruments. The title of this work probably owes something to the autumnal reflections painted by the orchestra, a poem by Edoardo Sanguineti and another by Nanni Balestrini, All Saints and All Souls days, the rain, and red wine.

This piece is dedicated to Maurizio Baglini and Tito Ceccherini.

II – Berceuse

In a lulling 7/8 movement, the construction of this short piece is entirely based on the addition of the twelve major scales. […] The piece does not move from where it starts. A single light green varnish, transparent and glossy, covers everything, while allowing evidently Chopinesque streaks to filter through. With this process, I wanted to shed a different light on a tonal piece (being at the same time serial, “dodecaphonic” and modal). In this sense, for me the piece is a variation on intents and vision of tradition.

This piece is dedicated to Jiji des Corsicarlins.

III – Quasi una Bagatella

How to approach a tribute to two of the greatest composers of all time?

I’ve already tried to answer this question by orchestrating several works for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Killing Bach. My aim was to underscore Bach’s building skills, as I attempted to test their resistance, becoming more devious and trivial with each sally.

When Patrick Hahn and Francois-Xavier Roth asked me to do something based on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, I realized almost immediately that this would not be an operation in any way analogous: Bach builds, Beethoven destroys.

How could I destroy a destroyer?

I worked on the problem, narrowed it down to the bare bones. I didn’t have to dig very far, though. The material used by Beethoven boils down to scales and arpeggios. So, that’s where I began. I wanted to put them up for discussion, in a way different from the original, but with the same inspiration.

Unlike Killing Bach, where the direct quotes were born before the treatment, the references to the original concerto fit in with an architecture made up of practically archetypal scales and arpeggios. From the title (which mocks Fantasia quasi Sonata, as well as Sonata quasi una Fantasia) to the piano techniques applied, I also somewhat comically snuck in some early Franz Liszt, Beethoven’s first great prophet.


 Francesco Filidei
from the program notes of the 29th Milano Musica Festival
(Milano Musica/Teatro alla Scala edition)


Franco Donatoni - In cauda III (1996)

Third episode in a series of orchestral compositions based on the Latin proverb In cauda venenum (“The poison is in the tail”). This work was composed in 1996, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city of Valladolid, in Spain. A performance in memory of Franco Donatoni, twenty years after his death.

“The entire musical discourse is developed through tightly-monitored dialogues between pairs of distinct blocks of tones and colors. The process gets even more refined with other two-part counterparts (forte-piano; strings-wood; staccato-legato; scales-chords; long and short chords, etc.). In the epilogue of the various tonal groups, they blend in an orchestral tutti, following ascending and descending vectors, all the way to the final chords. A surprise ending, all in unison, grandly, on D.” - Gianluigi Mattietti

View score on nkoda

Photo: Francesco Filidei / © Olivier Roller