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Southern Europe

  • Gottlieb Wallisch, piano

This sixth volume of Gottlieb Wallisch’s acclaimed 20th Century Foxtrots series takes us to Southern Europe, with composers in Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries becoming caught up in the jazz craze that swept through dance and concert halls by the 1920s. International influences blend with regional character and famous names jostle with new discoveries, all of whose contributions create a joyous mix of exuberant theatricality, evocative elegance and colourful blues.


Casavola, Franco
Tango Viola da Cabaret Epilettico (1925) (00:02:55)
Gattari, Alfredo
2 Novelty Piano Solos: No. 2. Chopin's Charleston Dream () (00:02:24)
Bossi, Marco Enrico
2 Valzer, Op. 221: No. 2. Venus Valse, Boston-Valse (1921) (00:03:41)
De Sabata, Victor
Principe, Fox-Trot () (00:02:24)
Puccini, Giacomo
Piccolo Tango (1907) (00:01:58)
Casella, Alfredo
Cocktail's Dance (1918) (00:01:44)
9 Pezzi, Op. 24: No. 8. In Modo di Tango (1914) (00:03:54)
Desderi, Ettore
Preludio, Corale e Fuga in modo sincopato (1934) (00:05:00 )
Preludio (00:01:15)
Corale (00:02:25)
Fuga (00:01:37)
Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario
Media Difficoltà (1931) (00:12:00 )
No. 3. Tango (00:02:56)
No. 4. Fox-Trot (00:02:56)
Bianchini, Emma
Danze della mia bambola, Op. 8 () (00:05:00 )
No. 2. Hésitation (00:01:57)
No. 3. One-Step (00:00:50)
Danze della mia bambola, Op. 9 () (00:04:00 )
No. 2. Tango (00:01:21)
No. 3. Charleston (00:00:54)
Mortari, Virgilio
Fox-Trot del Teatro della Sorpresa (1921) (00:02:19)
Savino, Domenico
Arabesque in Blue (1928) (00:03:25)
Fuleihan, Anis
From the Aegean: II. Tango (1946) (00:01:29)
Skalkottas, Nikos
Suite for Piano: III. Shimmy tempo (1924) (fragment) (1924) (00:04:26)
Sakellaridis, Theophrastus
To Please Her Husband: Foxtrot-Schimmy (1922) (00:01:51)
Camilleri, Charles
Piano Études, Book 3, "The Picasso Set" () (00:12:00 )
I. Foxtrot (00:00:52)
V. Blues (00:02:36)
Martí i Cristià, Josep
The Joyous American: Rag-time (version for piano) () (00:02:17)
Worsley, Clifton
Five O'Clock Tea, Fox Trot () (00:01:17)
Triste Illusion, Valse triple Boston () (00:03:41)
Mompou, Federico
Fox-Trot (1916) (1916) (00:02:43)
Tango (1919) (1919) (00:03:38)
Ballet: V. Temps de blues (1949) (00:00:49)
Lima, António Tomás de
Album infantil, Series 3: No. 4. O Cuco bailarino, One-Step () (00:01:02)
Album infantil, Series 1 () (00:06:00 )
No. 2. Buffooning, Fox-Trot (00:01:03)
No. 3. Good-bye, One-Step (00:00:58)
Ribeiro d'Almeida, Pedro F.
Arraial, One-Step sobre motivos do fado () (00:01:01)
Total Time: 01:10:38

The Artist(s)

Gottlieb Wallisch Born in Vienna, Gottlieb Wallisch first appeared on the concert platform when he was seven years old, and at the age of twelve made his debut in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. A concert directed by Yehudi Menuhin in 1996 launched Wallisch’s international career: accompanied by the Sinfonia Varsovia, the seventeen-year-old pianist performed Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto. Since then Wallisch has received invitations to the world’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals including Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Tonhalle Zurich, the NCPA in Beijing, the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Beethovenfest in Bonn, the Festivals of Lucerne and Salzburg, December Nights in Moscow, and the Singapore Arts Festival. Conductors with whom he has performed as a soloist include Giuseppe Sinopoli, Sir Neville Marriner, Dennis Russell Davies, Kirill Petrenko, Louis Langrée, Lawrence Foster, Christopher Hogwood, Martin Haselböck and Bruno Weil. Orchestras he has performed with include the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Festival Strings Lucerne, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra in Budapest, the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in Los Angeles, and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.

The Composer(s)

At a time when professional female composers were still the exception, the Venetian Emma Teresa Bianchini embarked on a promising career that was cut short by her premature death. She produced some orchestral works, but mainly wrote little pieces especially for children with illustrative titles.
The Italian composer and organist Marco Enrico Bossi studied with Ponchielli in Milan and became organist at Como Cathedral, with subsequent conservatory appointments in Naples, Venice, Bologna and Rome. He enjoyed considerable success as a recitalist. He composed in most genres, and his output includes a number of works for organ.
Charles Camilleri Charles Camilleri was born in Hamrun, Malta, in 1931. He showed early promise as an accordionist and pianist and started composing at the age of eleven. By the end of his teens he had written a number of compositions inspired by Maltese traditional music and, particularly, by the local style of folk singing known as għana. When Camilleri was eighteen, he emigrated to Australia and eventually moved to London where he earned his living as a successful light-music arranger, performer, composer and conductor, assisting Sir Malcolm Arnold on the Oscar-winning soundtrack of The Bridge on the River Kwai. In 1958 Camilleri left London for New York and then Canada, where he studied composition whilst working as resident conductor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He would eventually describe these “electrifying” years as amongst the most exciting of his life. They certainly gave him the confidence to dedicate himself to composition, which he did on his return to London in 1965. The following years brought him ever-increasing critical acclaim and prestigious collaborations. 1977 saw Camilleri’s appointment as Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto. Camilleri also gave lectures at Buffalo State University, a hotbed of musical modernism, where he met experimental composers such as Carter, Feldman and Cage. Their influence took root in a number of works of this period including the Organ Concerto (1981).
Franco Casavola was categorised as a Futurist during the 1920s, as he aligned himself with an artistic movement that considered it necessary to take a stand against outmoded ideas. Among the most important principles set down in various manifestos were a rejection of standard academic teaching, the inclusion of visual ideas which were to be underscored not least by the use of everyday sounds in musical works, and an understanding of jazz as a basis for Futurist music. Defending his ideas in the face of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist movement, which set the cultural agenda, became something of a high wire act for the composer. This may or may not have contributed to his decision as early as 1927 to distance himself from his previous path and move towards a more moderate contemporary musical idiom. There may be a logical connection between his evolution and the fact that in later years he proved his worth primarily as the composer of music for around 70 major Italian films and documentaries. The gently swaying Tango viola from Cabaret epilettico (1925) offers a glimpse of his creative work in the 1920s, which was far from being exclusively revolutionary in nature. Its simplicity and ready accessibility make it a piece with the potential, even nowadays, to become one of those tunes people just can’t get out of their heads.
Among the leading figures in Italian music between 1918 and 1939, Alfredo Casella was trained in Paris at the Conservatoire as a pupil of Fauré. Returning to Italy, he did much to introduce contemporary music, as understood in Paris, to the Italian public. He was active not only as a composer but also as a pianist and conductor. His developing style of composition reflects international contemporary influences and trends.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco A composer and pianist, Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born 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 scores for some 250 films. He died in Los Angeles in 1968.
Victor de Sabata Victor de Sabata was born into a musical family: his father was a singing teacher and may have acted at some point as a chorusmaster for La Scala, Milan. Recognising Victor’s precocious musical talent, the family moved to Milan when he was eleven, and here he entered the Conservatory, studying violin, piano and composition and graduating in these subjects cum laude when he was eighteen. His music was swiftly taken up by conductors such as Tullio Serafin, at this time musical director at La Scala in succession to Toscanini, and Walter Damrosch, the conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra. At the age of twenty-four, de Sabata was commissioned to compose an opera for La Scala: Il macigno was produced there in 1917. (de Sabata subsequently revised this work and it was re-presented at Turin under the title Driada in 1935.) Henceforth he was to pursue a twin career as a virtuoso conductor and for some time as a composer.
Ettore Desderi Those who know Ettore Desderi mainly for the austere sacred works in the late-Romantic vein for which he became famous might be surprised to learn that he also managed to channel his liking for jazz. His Preludio, Corale e Fuga in modo sincopato shows how Baroque and Classical forms sound when subjected to syncopation. The work begins originally, with a perpetuum mobile-like prelude. This is followed by a chorale with hints of the blues, before an elaborate closing fugue comes close to anticipating elements of free jazz which, historically speaking, didn’t develop until much later.
Anis Fuleihan Anis Fuleihan made an intensive study of Middle Eastern traditional music as early as the 1920s. Inasmuch as he was director of the Beirut Conservatory from 1953 to 1960, and conductor of Beirut’s orchestra during the same period, Fuleihan is one of the founding fathers of Lebanese symphonic music. His orchestral works were premièred by the likes of John Barbirolli and Leopold Stokowski, and he himself frequently conducted the New York Philharmonic. After teaching at Indiana University for many years, Fuleihan held appointments first in Beirut and later in Tunisia, where he founded the Orchestre Classique de Tunis in 1962. Not only his biography, but also his music gives the impression that he was a focussed and vigorous cosmopolitan.
Chopin’s Charleston Dream by Alfredo Gattari provides a lively contrast to the idea of how a 20th-century composer might find his way in a new musical world without neglecting characteristics of his original style. Gattari, who achieved success as a composer of dance music and as a versatile arranger but also inhabited more serious realms like the transcription of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, makes use of a type of rag that was essentially confined to the 1920s (and occasionally crops up later in stylised form) – the novelty rag, or ‘novelty’ for short. In parallel to the jazz music emerging everywhere, this developed rags into virtuosic piano pieces. The similarity to mechanical piano rolls that ossify a piece, making it always the same to listen to, is deliberate. This in turn makes particular demands on live players. And perhaps it was less a case of Chopin dreaming of the Charleston than of Gattari dreaming of Chopin when he had the idea of working quotations from the Étude, Op. 25, No. 8 and popular ‘Minute’ Waltz, Op. 64, No. 1 into his piece.
António Tomás de Lima António Tomás de Lima – born in Lisbon and not to be confused with his equally prolific pianist and composer son Eurico – pays homage to the dance music of the 1920s in some of his children’s pieces. There is a dancing cuckoo (O cuco bailarino. One-Step), some joyously innocuous clowning (Buffooning. Fox-Trot) and a speedy farewell (Good-bye. One-Step).
Catalan composer Josep Martí i Cristià takes an authentic look at the heyday of ragtime, making it sound far more American than Mediterranean in The Joyous American.
Federico Mompou Catalan by birth, Federico Mompou studied in his native Barcelona before moving to Paris, where, before and after the war, he spent over 20 years. His music, much of it for piano, is economical in means with something of the sparse texture familiar from Satie, another perceptible influence.
Born near Milan in 1902, Virgilio Mortari studied at the Conservatory there with Costante Adolfo Bossi and Ildebrando Pizzetti, continuing at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied piano and composition. In Italy he taught at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory in Venice and later at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. His career brought contact with Alfredo Casella and other leading Italian musicians of the time.
Giacomo Puccini Descended from a family of musicians, Puccini was the most important Italian opera composer in the generation after Verdi. He was born and educated in Lucca, later studying under Ponchielli at the Milan Conservatory. He began his career as a composer of opera with Le Villi, on the story familiar from Adam’s ballet Giselle, but first won significant success in 1893 with Manon Lescaut. A musical dramatist of considerable power, if sometimes lacking in depth, he wrote 12 operas in total, the last, Turandot, still unfinished at the time of his death in 1924.
Pedro F. Ribeiro d’Almeida offers an exquisite encore with Arraial (‘Village Fair’), a One-Step on fado motifs which manages to reconcile two seemingly very different musical worlds.
If Skalkottas is indubitably one of the foremost Greek composers of the 20th century, then his compatriot Theophrastos Sakellaridis gives us a glimpse of a field with which probably only a very small number of specialists are familiar – that of Greek operetta, which he established as a genre during Central Europe’s Silver Age. At a guess, he composed around 80 operettas, which are as little-known outside Greece as his operas and works in other genres. His Foxtrot Shimmy sounds just like an upbeat number from a stage work by someone like Lehár or Kálmán. It started life as a vocal duet belonging to the operetta Για να αρέσει στον άντρα της (‘To Please Her Husband’), premiered in 1922.
Domenico Savino emigrated to the US as early as 1910, so he probably came across various forms of jazz rather earlier than the majority of his Italian compatriots. His Impressionistic, Debussian Arabesque in Blue didn’t quite achieve the popularity of Gershwin’s Rhapsody, but in its own way it is an equally likeable homage to composing with blue notes.
Nikos Skalkottas Nikos Skalkottas is universally recognised as a leading member of the Second Viennese School and its most prominent Greek composer, who wrote atonal, twelve-tone, neo-Classical and tonal music. A brilliant violinist, Skalkottas moved to Berlin in 1921 at the age of 17 where he studied violin with Willy Hess and composition, staying there until his repatriation in 1933, never to leave Athens again. Although playing the violin in various ensembles and settings remained the main source of income throughout his life, by 1923 he had already turned his efforts to composition. Two of the leading composers with whom he studied were Kurt Weill and Arnold Schoenberg; in fact, the latter considered Skalkottas among his ‘most gifted students’.
The work of another native of Catalonia, Pere Astort i Ribas, also exhibits an audible proximity to the Anglo-American style. He started out working in a music shop, where customers became aware of both his talent as a pianist and his early compositions. He accepted advice to publish under a pseudonym so as to sell better in America, chose the name Clifton Worsley, and was soon known as the ‘jazz pioneer in Barcelona’. His foxtrot Five O’Clock Tea pays homage to a British custom rather than an American one, while Triste Illusion belongs to a genre he particularly liked, the slow, swaying Boston waltz. (To be more precise, it is a so-called ‘Triple Boston’.) The pieces were published in 1916 and 1917 respectively and are therefore relatively early examples of this music in Southern Europe.