Gambini: 8 Chamber Romances
By Benedetta Torre and Davide Mingozzi. By Carlo Andrea Gambini. Classical. CD. Brilliant Classics #BRI95888. Published by Brilliant Classics (NX.BRI95888).
Item Number: NX.BRI95888
Born in Genoa in 1819, Carlo Andrea Gambini began his career as a piano teacher to local aristocracy thanks to his family's privileged connections. Showing equal energy and invention in both words and music, however, he soon pursued parallel activities as a composer and a critic. He was friends with both Rossini and Mercadante but held Verdi's music in little esteem. His own music looks to the north of the Alps for its inspiration: to Chopin and Schumann, Thalberg and Liszt. Though he engaged in operatic composition - writing a Christopher Columbus drama, for example - Gambini focused his compositional energies on piano music and vocal chamber works such as the Romanzas recorded for the first time on this album. This genre enjoyed huge popularity at the time in Italy, though its format did not translate readily or survive well beyond the 19th century: the nearest equivalents would be English and German ballads, at least until Reinaldo Hahn cast a spell over the drawing rooms of fin-de-siecle Paris. Cast between a song and an operatic scena, Gambini's romanzas set texts by contemporary lyricists such as Felice Romani (librettist for Bellini's Norma and much else besides) and the Genovese poet Giuseppe Torre. They talk of love and loneliness, the sea and the shore, and Gambini's settings burn with declamatory fire and passionate confession. This is the second album of Gambini's music on Brilliant Classics, following an absorbing survey of his organ music, played by Marco Ruggeri. The soloist here is soprano Benedetta Torre, whose career highlights include singing the High Priestess in Aida under Riccardo Muti at the 2017 Salzburg Festival, as well as Amelia Grimaldi at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Naples.