Elogio per un'ombra

Michelle Makarski, Thomas Larcher


A splendid Italian-American recital. Michelle Makarski, American violinist of Italian descent , explores the compositions of Dallapiccola, Petrassi and Berio – and American friends and contemporaries Carter and Rochberg – and relates them all to Tartini and the anonymous 14th century "Lamento di Tristano". The programme is highly imaginative; the playing is stunning.

Featured Artists Recorded

May 1999, Studio 1 des Schweizer Radio DRS, Zürich

Original Release Date


  • Sonata No. 7 in A minor
    (Giuseppe Tartini)
  • 1Tema con variazioni, variazione 801:04
  • 2Adagio02:27
  • 3Allegro02:44
  • 4Allegro02:48
  • Due Studi
    (Luigi Dallapiccola)
  • 5Sarabanda06:16
  • 6Fanfare e Fuga04:34
  • 7Elogio Per Un'ombra
    (Goffredo Petrassi)
  • Due Pezzi
    (Luciano Berio)
  • 8Calmo05:04
  • 9Quasi allegro alla marcia02:23
  • Sonata No. 7 in A minor
    (Giuseppe Tartini)
  • 10Tema con variazioni, variazione 1300:36
  • 11Tema con variazioni, variazione 1800:58
  • 12Tema con variazioni, variazione 1500:32
  • 13Tema con variazioni, variazione 1400:57
  • 14Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi
    (Elliott Carter)
  • Sonata No. 7 in A minor
    (Giuseppe Tartini)
  • 15Tema con variazioni, variazione 800:53
  • 16Tema con variazioni, Tema01:04
  • Caprice Variations
    (George Rochberg)
  • 17Variation 12, Andante Con Moto01:52
  • 18Variation 27, Aria03:01
  • 19Variation 6, Poco Allegretto Ma Con Rubato02:05
  • 20Variation 37, Barcarolle02:33
  • 21Lamento di Tristano
This beautifully recorded recital is one of the most compelling albums I have heard in a long time. Michelle Makarski's infinitely flexible, silvery sound proves the ideal vehicle for a challengingly structured yet utterly absorbing piece of programming. Startlingly inventive contemporary scores by major Italian figures (or, in the case of Elliott Carter and George Rochberg, composers speaking with an unmistakably Italian stylistic accent) are hauntingly interspersed with movements from Tartini's A minor Solo Sonata. Makarski is a virtuoso with a Milsteinesque propensity for allowing the natural harmonics and resonances of her instrument to ring out unfettered by over-emphatic bow pressure. This is the kind of artistry that seduces merely by the sound it creates.It is Makarski's bewitching sensitivity and tonal allure that makes even such potentially forbidding musical terrain as Goffredo Petrassi's 14-minute Elogio per un'ombra grip the attention from first to last. This sensational disc is rounded off by an anonymous 14th-century Lamento di Tristano, a two-minute pianissimo miniature played with the kind of ear-tingling subtlety to have one immediately reaching for the repeat button. A triumph.
Julian Haylock, The Strad, UK
Elogio per un'ombra ist nicht nur eine CD für Fans "komponierter" Programme, deren Stücke aufeinander verweisen, sich gegenseitig erhellen und ergänzen, es ist auch eine CD für alle, die die zeitgenössische Musik aus ihrem Spezialisten-Ghetto herausholen und in Beziehung zur musikalischen Tradition setzen wollen, um den Aufbruch im Alten und das Historische im Neuen gleichermaßen zu entdecken. Nicht zuletzt ist es auch eine CD für Liebhaber eines gedankenvollen und dennoch leichtfüßigen Geigenspiels. Dieses nämlich kultiviert Michelle Makarski hier auf hinreißende Weise, wenn sie Tartinis siebente Solosonate mit Stücken italienischer bzw. vom italienischen Stil beeinflußter Komponisten durchsetzt, die wiederum aufeinander verweisen. Dabei nimmt Goffredo Petrassis titelgebende Elogio per un'ombra auch insofern eine zentrale Position ein, als hier wohl nahezu der komplette klangfarbliche Kosmos der Violine durchschritten wird. Dem kann man auf intellektuelle Weise begegnen - man kann sich aber genauso gut auch einfach in die Welt der singenden und schwingenden Geigentöne fallen, sich träumend vom Barock in die Gegenwart und wieder zurück tragen lassen.
Susanne Benda, Klassik Heute
This is a real recital on disc, and an extremely ingenious one. Taking the seventh of Tartini's 26 Piccole sonate for violin - specifically its "extra" theme and variations - as a kind of refrain, the fine Italo-American soloist unfolds a programme with Italian-American overtones. A fascinating, cross-cultural acoustic sequence.
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, UK
The recital offers a variety which a stylistic uniform programme might struggle to achieve. Very clear sound-recording and strong presence.
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone, UK
Makarski gelingt überzeugend, Tartini und die italienische Moderne in eine Traditionslinie zu stellen, und vor allem, selten gespielter, faszinierender Musik wie Goffredo Petrassis Elogio per un' ombra zu ihrem Recht zu verhelfen. Soloprogrammen wie diesem gehört hoffentlich die Zukunft.
Thomas Schulz, Applaus, Germany
Nicht nur Musik, auch Programme kann (und soll!) man komponieren. Exemplarisch gelingt dies der Geigerin Michelle Makarski, solo oder in Begleitung des Pianisten Thomas Larcher. "Architektur", Balance und Proportionen dieser gar nicht "auszuhörenden" CD sind sensationell, Inhalt und Ausführung sind es auch.
Karl Harb, Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria
Makarski déclame avec la même ferveur une oeuvre du XIVième siècle (sur un violon baroque) et du XXième siècle et respecte une simplicité d'élocution instinctive devant des pages parfois sombres (Dallapiccola), parfois tendres (Rochberg). Lorsqu'elle s'allie à Thomas Larcher, dans Berio et Dallapiccola, c'est pour lui communiquer cette intensité et ce timbre justes.
Hugues Payen, Le Monde de la Musique, France
L'esecuzione è di qualità; l'insieme, nobilissimo.
Enzo Siciliano, La Repubblica, Italy
An Italian-American recital. Michelle Makarski, American violinist of Italian (and Polish) descent, focuses upon modern Italian music through the prism of a sonata by Giuseppe Tartini - letting us view ways in which some of the most independent spirits in Italian contemporary composition can be related to that "spiritual inheritor of the intellectual musical tradition of the Florentine Camerata." American composer Stephen Hartke, in his liner notes, writes that "Dallapiccola, Petrassi and Berio are all 20th century avatars of this same tradition." Elliott Carter and George Rochberg, mean-while, were friends and musical associates of these architects of new music in Italy, and also spent formative time there, "absorbing the purity and elegance of its art and culture." The composition that concludes this program, the anonymous 14th century "Lamento di Tris-tano", is one of the earliest surviving examples of Italian instrumental music, "an unassuming yet highly moving forerunner of the whole corpus of Italian music."

In brief, this is a carefully structured program played with great sensitivity by Michelle Makarski, revealing a multiplicity of musical interconnections. Makarski's 1997 ECM solo debut "Caoine" was widely praised as a 'composed' recital whose component parts were in fine balance. On that recording, she played 11 etudes from George Rochberg's 51-part "Caprice Variations" cycle; on the present disc she adds another four. The cycle is a work unique in the history of contemporary music for solo violin, an anthology of modern playing techniques and a distillation of compositional ideas.

Rochberg, who began his compositional life as an ardent admirer of Schoenberg and Webern, was confirmed in the serial path by his association with Luigi Dallapiccola. Rochberg met the Italian composer in Rome in 1950 while on a Fullbright scholarship and later played him his first 12-tone works. In the 1960s, however, he turned away from the single-minded pursuit of 'originality' at all costs. As he said: "The idea of renewal, the rediscovery of music, began to haunt me. I came to realize that the music of the 'old masters' was a living presence, that its spiritual values had not been displaced or destroyed by the new music. The shock wave of this enlargement of vision was to alter my whole attitude toward what was musically possible today." He rejected the 20th century aesthetic viewpoint in which the artist's ego and his per-sonal style are supreme values and also the "received idea that it is necessary to divorce one-self from the past, to eschew the taint of association with those great masters who not only preceded us, but (let it not be forgotten) created the art of music itself." Rochberg's standpoint is quite significant for this recital of Makarski's, which considers the past and the present of music history as an unbroken continuum, with no rupture separating the "old" and the "new". Rochberg has also said, "I want to feel the intensity of experience where music is concerned. I must feel I'm in the presence of a passionate voice, a passionate nature. I want a strong, clear art." Every composition in the present recital reveals this clarity and commitment.

Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975) is usually remembered as the first Italian composer to dedi-cate himself to Schoenbergian 12-tone principles, yet he always applied them in a highly personal way, and "atonality" seldom seemed to cramp the lyric impulse that is never far from the surface of his music. A passion for Debussy and Busoni, on the one hand, and Monteverdi and Gesualdo on the other, predated Dallapiccola's wholehearted immersion in the strictures of the Second Viennese School, and may have tempered (in a positive sense) his radicalism. The "Due Studi" for violin and pianoforte are from 1946-47, years when the influential Italian music critic Fedele D'Amico wrote of the "soft and starry clime" of Dallapiccola's textures. Dallapiccola also exerted an influence upon Berio who described him, in the 1950s as "a point of reference that was not just musical, but also spiritual, moral and cultural." Berio and Dallapiccola (and Rochberg) spent time together at Tanglewood, and Berio's "Due Pezzi" was composed in part under Dallapiccola's tutelage.

At the time of this recording, in May 1999, Elliott Carter and Goffredo Petrassi seemed set to break all records for sustained creative compositional endeavor. Petrassi was then two months away from his 95th birthday and Carter was halfway through his 91st year. Carter wrote his "Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi" 15 years earlier, to celebrate the Italian mas-ter's 80th birthday, and the work was first performed in June 1984, at the Festival de Pontino in Sermoneta.

As Hartke notes, the "Riconoscenza" is an outstanding example in miniature of "Carter's uniquely personal manipulation of musico-dramatic space. The three main elements in the piece are distinguished one from the other by texture, speed and intervallic content, intercut in the manner of cinematic montage." This connects to Carter's own observation on Petrassi's compositions: "He has tried to get a sense of an unpredictable spontaneity in his music, and sometimes it becomes very fragmented, as though he wrote little bits of music which, when assembled, contrast surprisingly with each other. I love his music."

Petrassi's "Elogio per un'ombra" was written in 1971 and dedicated to composer, writer, pianist, teacher and conductor Alfredo Casella, a controversial figure in 20th century Italian music, due to his enthusiastic espousal of fascist principles from the early 30s until his death in 1947. (Cassella's opera "Il Deserto Tentato" was written in praise of Mussolini's Ethiopian campaign). According to writer John G. Waterhouse, "Casella's fascism was of the 'innocent' kind, reflecting nothing worse than lack of political understanding and gullibility in the face of propaganda". Be that as it may, he was viewed with ambivalence by the generation of composers who followed him and Petrassi's tribute, in recognition of Cassella's proselytizing for new music, was possible only "25 years later". Hartke: "Perhaps Petrassi's choice of the enigmatic word 'ombra' is his characterization of this flawed but beloved figure...Petrassi's piece is similarly shadowy and mercurial. The musical argument unfolds in an non-rhetorical, almost dream-like fashion. Petrassi's use of a stunning array of violinist timbres is nothing short of kaleidoscopic. But for all that, our 'ombra' remains deliberately an enigma, and the memory of an enigma at that."