Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966) and his student Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994) represent a fascinating and fertile but little-documented tributary in 20th-century music-the continuation of the late-Romantic European tradition as it evolved in Italy, transplanted to the United States. To these composers, the pressing aesthetic issues that concerned most of their colleagues—the quest for originality, the alleged exhaustion of tonality, the search for a uniquely American musical language—were utterly irrelevant, the result of insufficient knowledge, skill, and respect for their predecessors. For them all the answers lay in the unbroken chain of Western musical tradition, stretching back to Palestrina and before, and evolving organically through the centuries. According to their thinking, the chromaticism of Wagner and his followers was not the death knell of tonality, but rather a means of expanding expressive possibilities, to be absorbed within the composer's palette of techniques. Revering the heritage of the past, they viewed their own work as a humble contribution, as well as a means of expressing their inner selves.

Vittorio Giannini was born in Philadelphia to a family of professional musicians. (His older sister Dusolina became an internationally renowned soprano.) When he was nine he won a scholarship to study at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he remained for four years. After several years of private study, he entered the Juilliard School in 1925, where his chief composition teacher was Rubin Goldmark.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Giannini's compositional interests centered primarily on vocal music-songs as well as operas. (One of his first songs, "Tell Me, Oh Blue, Blue Sky," became a favorite on recital programs, and was later recorded by both Leonard Warren and Mario Lanza.) During the early 1930s, Giannini spent several years in Europe on three consecutive Rome Prizes. A number of major works, including two full-length operas, had auspicious European premieres at this time, winning the enthusiastic praise of Richard Strauss, among others. These works were all characterized by rich, warmhearted melody in a manner that combined both Italian and German influences.

Returning to the United States, Giannini joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in 1939, the Manhattan School of Music in 1941, and the Curtis Institute in 1956, where he taught concurrently. (The year before he died, he became founding President of the North Carolina School of the Arts.)

During the 1940s, Giannini began to give more attention to instrumental music, showing a predilection for Baroque forms, which he imbued with a romantic warmth. Both works on this disc represent this side of Giannini' s art. The Concerto Grosso was composed in 1946, and juxtaposes a string quartet within a larger string ensemble. In the vigorous opening Allegro, the solo group interacts with the larger ensemble as the texture alternates between filly scored tutti passages and more lightly scored episodes, in typical ritornello form. In keeping with the style, the patterns are regular and motoric, although a recurring syncopated figure lends a charming piquancy. An introductory passage featuring the solo quartet leads directly into the second movement, Aria, which a mournful melody is passed among the instruments over a regular, throbbing accompaniment, until it builds to a passionate climax. For the final movement, Allegro con brio, the entire ensemble joins forces in a lively fugue that suggests the opera buffa style that was a strong element within Giannini's creative temperament.

Prelude and Fugue was composed in 1955 on commission from the Juilliard School and shares many of the qualities found in the Concerto Grosso. The Prelude is solemn and plaintive, developing a simple motif through rich polyphonic treatment to an intense climax. The subject of the fugue that follows is based on a figure prominent in the Prelude. The Fugue has a driving quality, propelled by an asymmetrical five-beat meter. During its development, the entire motif of the Prelude reappears.

By the mid-1950s, the cult of academic modernism was taking hold of the professional musical community, and more conservative styles fell into disrepute. By the time of Giannini's death in 1966, his music was all but forgotten. This was the artistic climate in which Nicolas Flagello came to maturity and attempted to establish his reputation

Flagello was born in New York City in 1928. Like Giannini, his family was filled with musicians and, similarly, his brother Ezio became a leading operatic bass-baritone. Showing remarkable talent early on, Nicolas was playing the piano in public and composing before the age of ten. At about this time, his family brought him to the attention of Giannini, initiating a long and intensive apprenticeship that lasted until the older man's death. Flagello entered the Manhattan School of Music in 1945 and, upon earning his Master's Degree in 1950, joined the composition faculty. He remained there until 1977, although his tenure was interrupted when a Fulbright Fellowship enabled him to study at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, where he was awarded the Diploma di Studi Superiori in 1956.

Flagello's early compositions followed the manner of Giannini, with romantic operas, orchestral, and choral works in traditional forms. However, in contrast to Giannini' s warmth and geniality, Flagello's music displayed from the outset a more volatile, highly charged temperament.

In 1959, Flagello turned toward a darker, more personal mode of expression, producing dozens of major works in rapid succession. His music from this period is characterized by tremendous emotional intensity-often gloomy, turbulent, and tragic in character-and a tighter, more angular and dissonant language, though he never abandoned traditional structural procedures. Some of these qualities are evident in the Andante Languido, the second movement of Flagello's Concerto for String Orchestra, composed in 1959. The movement is intimate yet operatic in nature, beginning with a short, tentative motif that gradually unfolds in two phrases that each seems to end prematurely in climaxes of hopelessness. This is all introduction to the long-breathed "aria" that follows, beginning softly in the violas, and based on the opening motif As it ascends through the ensemble, the lament builds again in intensity, finally reaching an impassioned climax of despair, before subsiding in quiet resignation.

During the 1960s and 70s Flagello supplemented his teaching in New York with considerable activity as a recording conductor in Italy. Though few of his own works

were performed during those years, he continued to compose prolifically. In 1964 a series of recordings was issued that featured Flagello's music, and the critic of The New Records wrote, "If this is not great music, we will gladly turn in our typewriter and quit." Years later, Fanfare selected these recordings for its "Classical Hall of Fame."

Flagello's Serenata dates from 1968 and is scored for chamber orchestra. Composed in Rome shortly after the completion of his cataclysmic Symphony No.1, it is one of his few mature works that are light and diverting in character, its four movements suggesting the layout of a Baroque suite. The first movement, "Psalmus," is a memorial to Giannini and captures something of his mentor's warmth and tenderness of spirit. Toward the end Flagello quotes the two main motifs from the elder's comic opera, The Taming of the Shrew, in the horn and the oboe. "Passe-Pied" is a rather jocular and grotesque rendition of an old dance form. The "Siciliana" that follows evokes not only the flowing dance rhythm of its ancestor, but also a type of Semitic scale form found in the indigenous music of the Southern Italian coast. The concluding "Giga" is the most spirited movement of the four, as well as the most musically involved. It consists of a lively opening section and a more relaxed contrasting section, each of which is heard twice, connected by a fugal transition the second time. The movement concludes with a joyful coda that combines both themes contrapuntally.

During the mid-1970s, beset by personal and health problems, Flagello's productivity waned and, in 1985, at the age of 57, he completed his last work. Shortly thereafter, he was confined to a nursing home, where he spent his remaining years. Today, with a renewed interest in the more conservative composers who flourished during the 20th century, both Giannini and Flagello are beginning to win recognition for their sincerity of expression, directness of emotional appeal, and superb craftsmanship.

While Giannini and Flagello found places for themselves in the world of the music conservatory, Morton Gould has been a central figure in the practical world of professional music-making since his youth. Born in New York City in 1913, he began to show extraordinary musical talent at an early age, playing the piano, improvising and composing at six. Two years later, he won a scholarship to the Institute of Music Art, where he studied with Abby Whiteside. His education was interrupted when economic hardship forced him to leave high school so that he could help support his family. This led him into popular and commercial music-vaudeville, radio, television, and movies—through which he became something of a household name, widely known as a composer, conductor, and arranger of "light classical" music. However, Gould remained involved in all aspects of musical activity, and, during the 1960s and 70s made frequent appearances and recordings as a symphonic conductor. Since 1986 he has served as President of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Despite his many varied activities, Morton Gould has continued to compose prolifically throughout his career. Though his best known works have been in the "light-classical" vein, much of his music is more serious in tone and ambitious in scope, although most does incorporate vernacular elements to some extent. A good example of Gould's more serious side is Harvest, composed in 1945. He dedicated the work to his wife Shirley, whom he had married the year before, and intended it as something of a celebration of their life together. Scored for the unusual combination of strings, harp, and vibraphone, Harvest attempts to evoke a strongly American feeling through devices and techniques used also by such composers as Roy Harris and Aaron Copland. The work might be described as an abstract tone poem and is free and rhapsodic in structure. There are two parts, the first reflective and speculative, the second more active, with something of a hoedown flavor. In contrast to the European-oriented romanticism of Giannini and Flagello, Gould's Harvest is a quintessential example of the mainstream American compositional style of the 1940s.

Notes by Stewart Limmson

David Amos has commissioned new works, as well as conducted many world premiere performances of live concerts and record releases and is one of the most recorded conductors of 20th century American music, with over twenty-five compact disc releases with ten different orchestras. He began his musical studies as a pianist in Mexico City. After receiving his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from San Diego State University, he taught music for seven years, followed by one year of Doctoral studies at Indiana University. His recordings with the Israel Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic, London Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, and City of London Sinfonia have been broadcast on radio throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 1989 Mr. Amos conducted the Royal Philharmonic of London in a highly praised album of concertos for two pianos and orchestra by Morton Gould and Walter Piston.

Mr. Amos has frequently been in demand as a guest conductor, lecturer, and adjudicator in music competitions as well as hosting and producing radio programs on 20th century contemporary music.

The New Russia Orchestra is a product of the dramatic changes that have transformed this country during the past several years. Yet the New Russia Orchestra is also firmly rooted in Russia's great orchestral tradition. The Orchestra draws its musicians from the principal ranks of Russia's most famous orchestras, including the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic and State Symphony Orchestra. Unlike musicians in Russia's state orchestras, the musicians of the New Russia Orchestra are privately contracted for their services. In the spirit of London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the New Russia Orchestra was originally formed as a recording ensemble, and has gone on to receive high acclaim for its performances as well. The New Russia Orchestra represents the new Russia at its best.

Recorded at the Great Hall of the MoscowTchaikovsky Conservatoire August 31 and September 1 and 2, 1994

Recording Studio: Arteton Ltd., Moscow

Producer: Vadim Ivanov

Recording Engineer: Vladimir Schuster

Editing Engineers: Farida Uzbekova and Vladimir Kiselev

Albany Records and the International Musicians' Recording Fund would like to thank the SHISEIDO CORPORATION, Tokyo, Japan, for its generous contribution toward the funding of this recording.


P.O. Box 5011, Albany, NY 12205

Tel: 518.453.2203 FAX: 518.453.2205


Box 12, Warton, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 9PD

Tel: 0524 735873 FAX: 0524 736448


© 1994 IMRF