Cilea / Boldrini / Lorenzani - Songs & Piano Music | RECORD STORE DAY

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Over the course of a long but ultimately frustrated career as a late-Romantic lyric composer, Francesco Cilea ascribed to one credo above all: 'Be Italian'. In L'Arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur, above all, he created masterpieces of the new style of verismo which kept sung drama in Italian at the centre of wider notions of what opera means. Everything he wrote, from large-scale stage works, to chamber pieces to the salon songs and miniatures gathered here, expressed his quintessentially Italian voice and aesthetic philosophy. 'The real instrument of expression of the passions is the divine human voice,' he once remarked, 'with which no instrument can ever compete.' Thus, in complement to his career as an operatic composer, he wrote a small but exquisite collection of songs gathered here by artists with considerable experience in the field of neglected Italian art-song. This collection opens with the charming Romanza which Cilea composed at the age of 17, evidently under the spell of Bellini's Norma. The more complex harmony of 'Bionda larva' from three years later mirrors Cilea's development as a stage composer, about to launch his first opera, Gina. Every sung line here is calculated, as it was in Monteverdi's day, to heighten an appreciation of the text, and the emotions underlying it, with a madrigalian illustration which always colours and never obscures the words. There are expressions of heightened erotic passion alongside simple religious devotion - a typically Italian paradox.As interludes, David Boldrini plays four evocative miniatures, functioning essentially as songs without words. He and Lenny Lorenzani have made a previous collection of Cilea's songs, but this new Brilliant Classics album was recorded in 2023 and features a different selection of repertoire. - Francesco Cilea (1866-1950) went into history as the composer of one opera, Adrienne Lecouvreur. However, this late romantic Italian left a fine oeuvre of chamber and solo works, wonderfully evocative music, full of subtlety and finesse, in the style of early Debussy, studies in sonority and instrumental colours.- This new recording presents a selection of art songs and piano works. The songs are typically Italian in their simple, fluid, and elegant vocal melodies, "The real instrument of expression of the passions is the divine human voice, with which no instrument can ever compete" As Cilea himself said in an interview. - Beautifully performed by Lenny Lorenzani and David Boldrini.