ALBERTO FRANCHETTI – CHAMBER MUSIC
Silvia Mazzon – violin
Marcello Mazzoni – piano
Giulio Potenza – piano
“I have a passion for the music, and grows every day”: these lines by twenty-two years old Alberto Franchetti (Turin, 1860 – Viareggio, 1942) refers to a crucial circumstance in the life of the future composer. Asking his father for permission to continue his studies abroad (until then in a private way), the eldest son of the illustrious Franchetti family decided – disappointing his paternal expectations – to devote himself entirely to the music. Milan, the center of the Italian music market, attracted Puccini more, but the landscape beyond the Alps certainly was not less interesting: Paris – in particular – it seemed to be a center of great importance regarding the developments of the most updated artistic and aesthetic currents, destined to influence the whole genre of the late 19th-century operistic drama.
Franchetti, cleverly, did not choose the country in which Gounod and Massenet triumphed: instead he went to Munich and later to Dresden, approaching himself to the Wagnerian world; in the Saxon capital he studied in particular with Draeseke, a pupil of Liszt and admirer of Wagner, and as a composition essay he presented the Symphony in E minor (1885). Returning to Italy, Franchetti was one of the few authors who have composed a symphony in four movements based on the cyclical exposure of the themes, all synthesized in the last movement (this evidenced and proof an advanced compositional technique); having preferred a ‘big form’ like the symphony distinguished Franchetti even in the same in vogue current of the symphonism, in which other Italian composers (like Puccini) participated, who however limited themselves to less extensive forms, such as interludes or symphonic capricci.
With a debut like this, Franchetti could have established himself as a specifically instrumental composer, assimilating his career like Sgambati and Martucci’s: his aspiration always remained, however, the composition of lyrical works, the most prestigious genre of the time and thanks to which reached international fame. It is indicative that Franchetti, having reached a compositional maturity, did not contribute any more to the symphonic forms: all the symphonic episodes of his musical dramas, from Asrael (1888) onwards, ‘betray’ his beyond-the-Alps background formation and constitute a synthesis between the aesthetic-musical influences of those regions and the post-Verdi Italian melodrama.
In the opera Germania, whose debut was an absolute triumph, Franchetti won the challenge of combining his previous compositional experiences with a musical style intimately connected (or rather sprung) from the drama of Luigi Illica, whose goal unravels the background of the national clashes at the Napoleonic era: inspired by the typical models of musical exoticism, Franchetti uses goliardic and popular songs to recreate the Germanic soundscape and the war-patriotic atmosphere of the time, and the idiomatic musical motifs are in the score in relation to various dramaturgical levels, from citations to allusive and imitative processes. The famous arioso «Studente! Udite, o voi» (Student! Hear, oh you) is the ideal example of this stylistic process, gradually transforming itself into one of the main recurring motifs at the opera, as well as in the medium through which the composer creates the particular ‘ink’, suggestive and ‘speaking’, of the musical drama.