The Bolognese composer Daniele Venturi has received widespread recognition. Critics, performers and musicologists (such as Giacomo Manzoni, Sandro Cappelletto, Plinio Perilli and other) have all been struck by his individual approach to instrumentation, and they have not been slow to praise his rigorous and imaginative synthesis of strikingly varied influences.
These include modality, atonality and the folk music of the Bologna countryside.
From the presentation of the so-called “Quattro lembi di cielo” by Daniele Venturi 2009
Teaching composition is not only a difficult task, it also often not exactly gratifying. In the course of my long career, I have taught my fair share of individuals utterly unsuited to this subject and also, by contrast, of young people who have forged ahead on the strength of their own willpower and managed to find their own musical voice.
However, the majority were highly capable of absorbing whatever I gave them and participating actively in whatever we did, achieving fine results indeed – as long as they remained students.
Because once they were left alone to make their own decisions and be responsible for themselves, it was as though they didn’t know which way to turn.
The demands of composing independently proved too much for them and too often too many young people who had shown real talent threw in the towel before the going got tough – against all the expectations of their ex-teacher, I might add.
But Daniele Venturi is not one of them.
After his apprenticeship, during which he acquired a thorough knowledge and command of the compositional techniques of our time, he went fearlessly ahead with his own work to become a highly individual presence among the many faceless individuals on the current scene who treat composition as though it were accountancy or watch repairing.
As will be readily apparent to any listener, this CD offers a wealth of fine ideas and admirable results.
Which is why I believe Daniele Venturi deserves all the respect and encouragement that I, his ex-teacher now watching from the sidelines, can give him.
From the CD booklet “Four strips of sky” by Daniele Venturi 2009
This is a recording in one act
This recording comprises twelve chamber pieces written by Italian composer Daniele Venturi in just five years. Although the lineup is different on each one, there is a recognizable continuity of expression throughout, as though they were various stages on a single journey.
Venturi emerges as a thoroughly mature artist with a varied palette ranging from the violently bright or dark to delicate, tranquil pastel shades.
An atmosphere of calm is established by bassoon, oboe and clarine tbefore the flute enters at the opening of Bagliori.
The effect is like a curtain rising in a visionary theatre of sound conjured up in the soundscapes of the imagination by this instrumental music.
The human voice is firstheard at the emotional invocation of the Agnus Dei, as the soprano restlessly weaves a vocal line relentless in the anguish-ridden memories it evokes in both performer and listener until tranquillity and serenity are restored by the solo flute in Trois très triste.
The transparently neoclassical elegance and poise of this composition recall Petrassi and Venturi’s use of the harpsichord is a further sign of the composer’s great sensitivity.
Preludio all’infinito silenzio and Charanam also provide echoes of musical history with their at times rather self-satisfied Liberty-era taste for the instrumental miniature.
With mosaic-like precision and passion for detail, fragment after fragment emerges in these pieces to reveal an overall grand design.
Surprisingly for a debut recording, the artist demonstrates his ability to infuse his music with elements of the theatrical both within each particular piece and also as an overall sequence.
The descent into hell of the organ at the opening of Transfigurations precedes – as the title promises, which is the very reason why this piece is emblematic – an ascension heard in the trills which attempt to stay the course even when the doom and gloom of the opening return and get the upper hand.
Venturi frequently alternates between extreme registers, exploring the potential of his sound sources and going to the outer limits where
he will pause before attempting to push beyond the farthest frontiers of sound and take the listener into uncharted realms of perception.
Yet these far-flung sonic reaches are as likely to be where events stop, albeit in unstable fashion, as in the infinite and unresolved pedal note at the end of the piece.
Transfigurations combines and contrasts the work of two of the composer’s favourite poets: Alda Merini e Sandro Penna.
This is thoroughly logical, for they have much in common: traumatic experiences with love, loneliness, being an outsider and a sense of loss over beauty never reached and then dashed to pieces in their youth.
Desire, expectation, accusation and cries are heard in the voices of both – and to emphasize that neither sex has a monopoly on any of these sensations, Alda Merini is sung by a counter-tenor.
Venturi also combines the king of instruments – the organ – with the folksy accordion in Lai, named after the medieval form of poetry, a form which would normally have been sung.
Yet here, the composer employs two radically contrasting instruments in a duet simple in scope but greatly varied in melody, character and shading.
The work has the sort of drive encountered in folk music and occasionally seems intent on reminding “classical” music of the places and forms it came from and has been attempting to forget ever since.
Cleary then, history infuses the present and individual knowledge is the offspring of collective memory.
Daniele Venturi has had a thorough musical education and knows the forms of music inside out.
Introduction and coda are major elements on the present recording, since the two longest pieces are heard at the outset and conclusion of this series of works and both feature a solo instrument.
Quattro lembi di cielo is for violin and Tratti sospesi for harp and in both compositions sound is transformed into echoes and echoes of echoes as one listens.
The music indeed has energy but lasting only a few instants.
That does not mean it dies, however, but is transformed mysteriously as sound produces meaning and echo becomes the manifestation of memory.
It is almost as though violin and piano were listening to each other and at this journey’s end the shadows and anxieties experienced at the outset dissolvenat the sensation of welcome and arrival.
Which is why this recording in one act has a happy ending.
Daniele Venturi is one of the most interesting young composers in Europe.
His compositions are very original and refined, which is not very easy to find today.
I had the pleasure to meet him at his festival: I was impressed by the ability of the organization and constant openness to the “new”.
A composer who will talk much about himself.