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The opera Caprice Fantasque by Pesaro composer Mario Totaro.
Notes for purchaseIn the Percussion version, detached parts are included.
In 1918, the great impresario Sergej Diaghilev asked Ottorino Respighi to rework some of Rossini's music from Péchés de vieillesse. The pieces would be used for the new ballet La boutique fantasque, performed by the legendary Ballets Russes in 1919. It was not the first time that Diaghilev commissioned revisitations of music from the past for his shows, nor would it be the last: in 1917 he entrusted Vincenzo Tommasini with the task of orchestrating some sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti for the ballet Le donne di buon umore, and in 1919 he entrusted Stravinsky with the music for Pulcinella, based on pieces by G. B. Pergolesi and other 18th century Italian musicians. The recovery of 'ancient' stylistic features in 20th century music was certainly not an invention of Diaghilev: it was an aesthetic orientation that had already been in the air for almost two decades, but which developed above all in the period between the two world wars and was called 'neoclassicism' (while music based on pre-existing works was called 'music squared'). Born above all as a reaction to the excesses of late Romanticism, neoclassicism took on very different characteristics: In the simplest cases (as, for example, in Tommasini's Le donne di buon umore), the composer limited himself to arranging the original music, generally respecting its musical characteristics and thus reducing the break with the past to a minimum. In more complex and more interesting cases (as in Stravinsky's Pulcinella), the dialectic between past and present was accentuated and the pre-existing music was 'recomposed' in a parodistic key, to the point of estrangement and ironic-grotesque deformation. Returning to La boutique fantasque, the choice of enigmatic, impertinent and detached pieces by the Rossini of his later years could have led to very interesting results. Rossini appears to us today not only as the most illustrious anti-Romantic of the 19th century, but even as a 'pre-neoclassical' composer in his ironic, irreverent and desecrating parodies of 19th-century styles and 'icons'. It should also not be forgotten that, in the Petite Messe Solennelle, he paved the way for the 20th century while recovering a glorious past, practically uniting Bach with Stravinsky. Respighi, however, was unable or unwilling to seize the opportunity: his masterful and dazzling orchestration of Rossini's originals is closer to Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov than to the 20th century. The fracture and dialectical confrontation between tradition and modernity were eliminated here, to the point that La boutique fantasque not only cannot be considered a neoclassical work, but even stands as anti-neoclassical! Almost eighty years after these events, Caprice fantasque takes up the Rossinian music instrumented by Respighi and re-proposes it in the same order he had chosen, but with a very different intention. The reference to Respighi and to "music in the square" is only a pretext to propose a real "music in a cube". The object of the parody, in fact, is not so much the Péchés de vieillesse (themselves already parodic) as the entire season of historical neoclassicism. The operation is conducted under the banner of detached and light intellectual play. More than a critical exercise, therefore, it is a true divertissement, even if the ironic, smiling scepticism of the background gives way here and there to disturbing traits.
4-Hand Piano, 4-Hand Piano and Percussion
Paper score, PDF score