Maestro di Suoni e Silenzi 7: A Reissue and a Revisit

Grant Chu Covell

[July 2023.]

Nono reissues appear in DG’s gargantuan (257 CDs + 8 DVDs) limited and numbered edition (only 2650 copies!) of Claudio Abbado’s complete recordings for DG, Decca and Philips. Friend to the composer, Abbado’s DG releases span Nono’s career from Liebeslied (1954), on CD 253, to No hay caminos, hay que caminar… Andrej Tarkowskij (1987), on CD 254. The 1974 recording made with Pollini, still one of the best Nono albums ever, with Como una ola de fuerza y luz (1971-72), …sofferte onde serene… (1976) and Contrappunto dialettico alla mente (1968), is CD 152, or available in a downloadable or streaming installment sandwiched between Mussorgsky and Pergolesi (DG 00028948640546, the tenth volume in a series of 16 digital releases).

Alphabetically, Nono sits between Mussorgsky and Pergolesi. There could be stranger and less compatible bookends. Clearly this reissue is all about maestro Abbado, and at 257-plus sides, this is a comprehensive survey of Western Classical Music. I’m not just saying this because there’s a bit of Nono, Sciarrino and Xenakis, in addition to the three Bs, operas by Mozart, Verdi and Wagner, and more. I don’t think I have sought out Abbado’s recordings, but I would lean towards him if presented with an unknown alternate. Definitely I’d be curious to hear what he does with compatriots and perhaps some Russian repertoire.

What will listeners think who stumble into the metallic electronic sounds and disassociated sopranos after Mussorgsky’s plummy and tuneful Khovanshchina? Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater falls into place after a text on Malcolm X’s assassination. Anything that will get more ears onto Pollini’s powerful …sofferte onde serene… is a good idea.

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Of course, the plaque is still there. On a recent visit to an unexpectedly cold and windy Venice, we had to tramp along the exposed Zattere to see for ourselves.



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