An Italian disciple of Liszt, Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914) was once chiefly for his once-popular transcription of the Melodie from Gluck’s Orphée ed Euridice. His own music has only begun receiving sustained attention in the last couple of decades, and Gaia Federica Caporiccio’s projected complete survey is only the second such project to reach completion.
The first volume of the survey (PCL10216) met with a warm critical welcome. According to Fanfare magazine, ‘Gaia Federica Caporiccio plays with a winsome freshness, offering some finely shaped melodies and some insightful rubato.’ Caporiccio now turns to some of the collections which most betray the influence of Schumann on Sgambati’s style, or at least they share the German composer’s capriciously divided personality.
The eight pieces of Fogli Volanti (Flying Pages) Op.12 begin with a Romanza which could almost have strayed from the pages of Kinderszenen, but then Sgambati reveals his hand, and his Italian origins, in a gently swaying Canzonetta. The simplicity of the following Idyll is likewise Sgambati’s own, and a fine balance between German and Italian influences continues to mark the suite until the concluding festivities of its ‘Campane a festa’.
On a miniature scale – the six movements lasting hardly more than a miniature each – the Fantasie Alpestri return to Sgambati’s origins, or at least an idealised, rural version of them. The ghostly presence of Schumann once more surges up between the semiquavers in the opening Prelude of the Quattro pezzi di seguito before a kind of commedia dell’arte spirit takes over in the ‘Vecchio menuetto’. The slow movement of the suite is supplied by ‘Nenia’, taking its name from an old Roman funeral song. The Mélodies poetiques are cast in a lighter vein, whereas the five-movement Suite Op.21 finds Sgambati at his most Lisztian, with rippling figuration to test out any virtuoso pianist.
Gaia Federica Caporiccio’s pianism and dedication is restoring the name of Sgambati to a measure of wider renown; her own booklet essay completes a labour of love which will make essential listening for any piano collector.
- Born in Rome, to an Italian father and an English mother, Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914), received his early education at Trevi, in Umbria. In his early twenties he met Franz Liszt in Rome, where the great composer resided for a period each year from 1861. The young man immediately became his favourite pupil, a faithful interpreter of his compositions and a precious collaborator for the mission that warmed both their hearts: to spread classical music in the Roman society of the time. Liszt's Roman school was based in Sgambati's home, where the master trained the best pianists of the time. Sgambati was the first to conduct his Dante Symphony. Liszt took him with him on his travels and introduced him to Richard Wagner, who deeply admired his compositions. His fame grew rapidly, leading him to give concerts all over Europe and in Russia. He received invitations and signs of esteem from the most important musicians of his time: in addition to Liszt and Wagner, he was friends with Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Massenet and Busoni.
- Sgambati’s piano music consists of a wide variety of shorter pieces: nocturnes, impromptus, preludes. This doesn’t say it is merely salon music, his piano works have a solid and well-defined structure, innovative ideas and interesting harmonic choices, showing mastery of the musical discourse and an unique expressiveness, all concentrated in a few minutes.
- This second volume of the complete piano works by Sgambati presents the 12 Mélodie poétiques Op. 36, Fogli volanti Op. 12, Fantasie alpestri and many shorter individual works.
- Born in Florence in 1988, Gaia Federica Caporiccio’s first encountered the piano at the age of 5 showing a clear interest and an undeniable musical gift. At the age of 18, she received the Bachelor Diploma at the "Cherubini" Conservatory. Two years later, she obtained the Master in Music Performance – Concert with highest score. During the following years, she refined her art by attending some of the best musical academies with Pietro De Maria, Marian Mika, and Vovka Ashkenazy, performing in many concerts and winning several Piano Competitions.
- “Gaia Federica Caporiccio plays with a winsome freshness, offering finely shaped melodies and insightful rubato” (Fanfare about Sgambati vol. 1).