C1555. BRUNO MADERNA Cond. NDR S.O.: Composizione per orchestra; w.Christa Ludwig: Memento; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. RAI S.O., Roma, w.Lidia Marimpietri & Mario Borriello: Espana en la corazon; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. RAI S.O., Venezia: Composizione per orchestra; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks-Sinfonieorch.: Per Bastiana – Tai-Yang Cheng (all Luigi Nono). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-477, Live Performances, 1953-70. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Luigi Nono, was the most prominent of Italy's postwar avant-garde composers, [following in the style of] Arnold Schönberg, and whose daughter Nuria married Mr. Nono in 1955. But Mr. Nono also considered his music a vehicle through which social and political issues could be addressed, and his adherence to Serialism lessened as he searched for more specific ways to convey his beliefs.
Mr. Nono had some persuasive adherents among musicians, most notably the pianist Maurizio Pollini and the conductor Claudio Abbado. Carnegie Hall commissioned him to write a work for piano and orchestra as part of the Hall's centennial season.
Mr. Nono…began his musical studies in 1941 at the Venice Conservatory and studied with the composer and musicologist Gian Francesco Malipiero from 1943 to 1945 while also studying law at the University of Padua. In 1946 he began studying with the Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna and with the West German conductor Hermann Scherchen, both of whom became early champions of his work. Scherchen brought Mr. Nono's music to the attention of the European avant-garde by conducting the 'Variazioni Canoniche' at the prestigious new music festival in Darmstadt, West Germany, in 1950. Early on, the composer developed a detailed approach to scoring that included such techniques as splitting the syllables of single words among several singers, and applying dynamic markings to virtually every note. He also tended, throughout his career, to write music that made singers and instrumentalists use the extremes of their range.
In the mid-1950s, Mr. Nono's scores began to attract international attention, often as much for their ideological elements as for their musical innovations. A member of the Italian Communist Party, he frequently based his vocal works on Marxist texts and revolutionary writings….Mr. Nono's first opera, INTOLLERANZA 1960 (later revised as INTOLLERANZA 1970) attacks segregation, the atomic bomb and Nazism, and ends with a plea to listeners to prevent civilization from destroying itself. His second opera, AL GRAN SOLE CARICO D'AMORE (1975) is about the Paris Commune of 1871.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 May, 1990
“Bruno Maderna, like his close friend and fellow avant-garde composer Pierre Boulez, had in recent years become a conductor of international reputation. Since his debut here in 1970 conducting Mercadante's opera II GIURAMENTO at the Juilliard School, Mr. Maderna had led the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony and the Detroit Symphony. In Europe he had conducted widely, including the London Symphony, the B.B.C. Symphony and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. For the last two years of his life he was music director of the Italian Radio in Milan.
Mr. Maderna did not put great stock in his, or anyone's, success on the podium. ‘The era of the star conductor is finished’, he told a NEW YORK TIMES interviewer in 1972. In place of that phenomenon we must have, he contended, composer-conductors who could guide the musical life of their communities. His ideal in this respect was Mr. Boulez, the New York Philharmonic's music director.
Mr. Maderna, who was born in Venice, made his New York City Opera debut [in 1972] conducting a new production of DON GIOVANNI.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 14 Nov., 1973
“Christa Ludwig, who poured a lustrous voice into dramatically taut performances of opera roles - especially those of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner - and intimately rendered art songs as one of the premier mezzo-sopranos of the second half of the 20th century, commanded a broad range of the great mezzo-soprano parts, including Dorabella in Mozart’s COSÌ FAN TUTTE, Cherubino in his LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Octavian in Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER, Bizet’s Carmen and numerous Wagner roles. Often, critics were reduced to calling her the greatest mezzo-soprano of her time. But like many mezzos, Ms. Ludwig strove to lay claim to higher-voiced - and higher-profile - soprano roles. So she took on, most successfully in that category, characters including the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER, the Dyer’s Wife in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN and Leonore in Beethoven’s FIDELIO. She was an equal master of the intimate song - especially the works of Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. Her artistry put her in the pantheon of postwar lieder singers that included Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elly Ameling and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Ms. Ludwig made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino (a trouser role, a type she said was not her favorite) in 1959, took on Octavian and Amneris in Verdi’s AIDA at the house that year as well and sang regularly at the Met until the end of her career. But onstage, Ms. Ludwig brought a striking combination of acting ability, charisma and vocal beauty. Her voice had range and power, a security through all the registers and a broad array of colors.
‘Her unmistakable, deep-purple timbre envelops the listener in a velvet cloak’, Roger Pines wrote in OPERA NEWS in 2018, reviewing her collected recordings. ‘She excelled equally in intimate, legato-oriented lieder and the largest-scale operatic repertoire, where her sound expanded with glorious brilliance’. Critics often took note of her wit and comic deftness, and a personality that could fill a hall even when she sang softly. ‘Her presence on the Met stage was a synthesis of the dramatic arts all by itself - her voice, her wonderfully natural diction and her shadings of facial expression and gesture all conspiring to express with great emotional breadth the singular message of this singular music’, THE NEW YORK TIMES critic Bernard Holland wrote of a ‘Winterreise’ performance in 1983. Ms. Ludwig sang that searing Schubert song cycle some 72 times, even though it was composed for a male voice.
She met the bass-baritone Walter Berry at the Vienna opera in 1957 when they were cast in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. They married three months later and had a son, Wolfgang. The couple frequently appeared together in operas and joint recitals. In interviews, Ms. Ludwig said they felt occasional rivalry and were at odds in preparing for performances. The couple divorced in 1970, though they continued to perform together. (Mr. Berry died in 2000.) Soon after her divorce, Ms. Ludwig met the actor and stage director Paul-Emile Deiber while he was preparing a production of Massenet’s WERTHER at the Met, and they married in 1972. He died in 2011.
In the realm of song, critics took note of her sensitivity, smooth lines, intimacy, control and mastery of the text. ‘She is perhaps the reigning feminine expert at making us feel good about lonely teardrops and thwarted bliss’, THE TIMES critic Donal Henahan wrote in 1979.”
- Daniel J. Wakin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 April, 2021