Poulenc, Walton, Dallapiccola, Schnittke, Silvestrov

Duo Gazzana


The second ECM New Series album by Italian sisters Natascia and Raffaella Gazzana draws together a fascinating programme with a strong narrative line. In this album of works by composers from France, Britain, Italy, Russia and Ukraine, older music is viewed through the prism of the new, and affinities are explored – through the ages, across geographical borders and idiomatic divisions. Alfred Schnittke’s “Suite In The Old Style” reflects, temperamentally, upon Bach and Scarlatti, while echoes of Bach’s sonatas resonate in Valentin Silvestrov’s 2009 composition “Hommage à J.S.B.” Luigi Dallapiccola’s “Tartiniana seconda” addresses the music of baroque composer Giuseppe Tartini with canonic mastery. Francis Poulenc’s powerful “Sonate pour violon et piano”, written in occupied France in 1942-3 is dedicated to the memory of murdered poet Federico Garcia Lorca. And William Walton’s rarely-heard Toccata, written when the composer was just 20, bursts with ideas, acknowledging the virtuosic demands of the Toccata form, inviting improvisational responses from both violin and piano in the cadenzas, and drawing rhythmic impetus also from jazz (Walton was an early Ellington enthusiast). Duo Gazzana address the many challenges of the material with resourcefulness and imagination in this album recorded in June 2013 in Lugano.

Das zweite Album des Duo Gazzana für ECM New Series vereint Werke aus dem 20. und 21. Jahrhundert mit einer starken narrativen Linie und einem retrospektiven Blick auf die Musikgeschichte: Komponisten aus Frankreich, Großbritannien, Italien, Russland und der Ukraine präsentieren ältere musikalische Formen im Licht neuer Techniken und leuchten dabei Affinitäten quer durch die Zeitalter, über geographische Grenzen und idiomatische Unterscheidungen hinweg aus.
Alfred Schnittkes „Suite im alten Stil“ geht spielerisch und unkonventionell mit Kompositionsstilen der Vergangenheit um, während die „Hommage à J.S.B.“ des zeitgenössischen Ukrainischen Komponisten Valentin Silvestrov Themen des großen Leipzigers variiert. In ähnlicher Weise greift Luigi Dallapiccola in seiner „Tartiniana seconda“ die Musik des Barockmeisters Giuseppe Tartini mit meisterhafter Kontrapunktik auf. William Waltons selten gehörte Toccata, geschrieben als der Komponist erst 20 Jahre alt war, birst förmlich vor Ideen, die allen virtuosen Anforderungen an die Toccataform entsprechen. Die Kadenzen für Geige und Klavier verlangen nach quasi improvisatorischen Fertigkeiten, die ihren rhythmischen Impetus vom Jazz (Walton war ein früher Ellington-Verehrer) beziehen. Francis Poulencs kraftvolle „Sonate pour violon et piano“, komponiert Jahre 1942/43, ist dem Andenken des andalusischen Dichters Federico Garcia Lorca gewidmet.
Featured Artists Recorded

June 2013, Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano

Original Release Date


  • Suite im alten Stil
    (Alfred Schnittke)
  • 1I. Pastorale03:42
  • 2II. Ballett02:21
  • 3III. Menuett02:46
  • 4IV. Fuge02:31
  • 5V. Pantomime02:52
  • Sonate pour violon et piano
    (Francis Poulenc)
  • 6I. Allegro con fuoco06:42
  • 7II. Intermezzo06:22
  • 8III. Presto tragico05:46
  • 9Hommage à J.S.B.
    (Valentin Silvestrov)
  • 10Toccata for violin and pianoforte
    (William Walton)
  • Tartiniana seconda
    (Luigi Dallapiccola)
  • 11I. Pastorale - II. Tempo di Bourrée - III. Presto, leggerissimo - IV. Variazioni11:04
Duo Gazzana's second album for ECM New Series unites works from the 20th and 21st centuries with striking narrative character and retrospective glance at music history. Composers from France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia and Ukraine present earlier musical forms – toccata, suite, canons, variations – in the light of new developmental techniques, thereby revealing similarities and relations across centuries, geographical boundaries and contrasting forms of expression.

Alfred Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style is indeed a playful if unconventional allusion to compositional style of the past. Hommage à J.S.B., by the Ukrainian living composer Valentin Silvestrov, evokes variations on themes of the Leipzig master. Similarly Luigi Dallapiccola, in his divertissement Tartiniana seconda, responds with contrapuntal mastery to the music of the Baroque composer Giuseppe Tartini. William Walton's rarely heard Toccata, written when he had just turned 20 years old, virtually overflows with structural ideas related to the virtuosic demands of traditional toccata form. The cadenzas for both the violin and the piano call for quasi-improvisational skills that draw rhythmic impetus from jazz. Vitality and vehemence inform also Francis Poulenc's dramatic Sonate, here representing the evolution, on a structural and formal basis, of the simplest and earliest musical forms (toccata, suites, divertissement and variations) used in the compositions of this album. Written in 1942-43 it is dedicated to the memory of the Andalusian poet Federico García Lorca. A line, from one of his poems: 'La Guitare fait pleurer les songes' (The guitar makes dreams weep) inspired the second contrasting movement, an expressive intermezzo in the manner of a dirge.

The Gazzana sisters, Natascia and Raffaella, were born in Sora near Rome and formed the Duo Gazzana in the mid-1990s. Their joint musical education allowed them to develop a great sensitivity toward the conversational demands of subtle chamber music; moreover, they both took additional degrees at La Sapienza University in Rome – Natascia in visual arts, Raffaella in musicology, presenting a critical review of Walton's Toccata for her dissertation.
The two artists studied in Rome, Geneva, Brussels, Siena, Lausanne, Fiesole and Salzburg and received inspiration from a large number of prominent teachers, including Bruno Canino and the Trio di Milano, Yehudi Menuhin, Corrado Romano, Uto Ughi, Piero Farulli, Pierre Amoyal, Pavel Gililov and Ruggiero Ricci. They have given recitals in many European countries, Africa, Oceania and Asia and cultivate special relations with the Far East, including guest performances in Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, where they have also held master-classes. Fives Pieces, their first recording for ECM New Series, featuring works by Takemitsu, Hindemith, Janáček and Silvestrov, was released in 2011.

Further information and biographical details can be found at www.duogazzana.com.

This album was recorded in the Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera in Lugano in June 2013 with Manfred Eicher producing.