Martucci: Marvelous Music for String Quartet

Giuseppe Marticcui is credited with being the first Italian composer of the late 19th century to eschew opera for instrumental music, paving the way for Busoni, and Respighi.

This collection of chamber music gathers together prime examples of Martucci’s craft and makes for an engaging listening experience.

While Martucci didn’t write opera, he had an Italianate gift for lyrical melody. The themes for these works are beautifully turned, letting the instruments sing.

He was also a child prodigy at the piano — the piano parts for these works aren’t showy, but they’re quite substantial. Pianist Maria Semeraro rises to the occasion. Her expressive playing revels in the sound of her instrument while keeping it part of the conversation with her fellow performers.

Included in this collection are Martucci’s two piano trios and his piano quintet. They reminded me a little of Schubert’s music in the way that they just seem to flow from idea to idea. Martucci’s music is more formally structured, though, making it easier to follow the development of his material.

The performers are closely mic’ed, with only a hint of room ambiance. That actually serves the music well, making it easier to hear the subtle interplay between the instruments. If you enjoy late-romantic chamber music, you should appreciate Martucci’s efforts. After listening to this recording, I certainly do.

Giuseppe Martucci: Piano Trios, Piano Quintet
Maria Semeraro, piano; Quartetto Noferini
Brilliant Classics 94968

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