New Classics

Composer and pianist Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in 1895 in Florence into an Italian Jewish family. In 1939 he moved to the United States, where, in common with other European composers in exile, he turned his hand to film music, providing influential scores for more than 200 MGM films. A prolific composer, his songs include attractive settings of Shakespeare. He made an important contribution to Jewish music and composed a wide range of impressive guitar works, opera, chamber music, quintets, quartets and duos, as well as concertos for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky. He also wrote extensively for the piano, often reflecting contemporary French influences, and until forced into exile he enjoyed a fine reputation in Italy as a pianist. Unfortunately his piano music has been largely neglected despite the fact that it is exceptional, impressionistic, and in the best post-Romantic tradition of ‘lighter’ music – though only relatively ‘light’ in that it is written in traditional harmony. Never shallow, but highly suggestive of moods, emotions, places and colors. Many of the works in this album are receiving their first recording and all are played by the brilliant Italian pianist Alfonso Soldano, the last and highly-regarded pupil of Aldo Ciccolini whose debut recording (piano music of Sergei Bortkiewicz) attracted worldwide acclaim. He is naturally attuned to the Romantic which makes him an ideal interpreter of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music. Alfonso Soldano won many piano competitions, regularly plays with major orchestras, and just been appointed Artistic Director of the Aldo Ciccolini Academy in Trani, Italy.

—John Pitt