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Guido Alberto Fano

String Quartet

The late-romantic dimension of Brahms opus was the reference point for decades of classical instrumental music in Europe, an "academic" tradition in in the highest sense of the word. The opus of Guido Alberto Fano should be set in this context. This composer remained firmly anchored to his own undisputed compositional skills, typical of the late 18th century, although he was almost a contemporary of Schoenberg. In the wake of Maestro Martucci, he was a representative of that generation of Italian composers who, once for all, broke away from the provincialism of the Italian school of "melodrama", and turn towards the European instrumental tradition.

The Quartet in A minor, composed in 1942, also vibrates with the spiritual resonances imposed by a new historical tragedy. Although in a late romantic context, the desire to communicate leads to an alteration in the usual formal structure towards a progressive assumption of ideal values. After a first movement in sonata form comes a Scherzo into which is inserted a trio in the distant tonality of A major, which is in total contrast, almost reminding us of a Chopin berceuse. The Scherzo is followed by a very short Andante in A Flat Major ("con intimo profondo sentimento") which can be considered as a preparation for the following extended fugue in F minor, which constitutes the fourth movement.

The fugue, which is entitled "Elevazione", however is not indicated as such, even though its musical subject is clearly taken from the works of the great French teacher André Gédalge. The Fugue is followed by a short Allegro which is enlivened by brilliant and colourful instrumental effects, reminiscent of a Ronḍ. The relationship with the meditative dimension of the whole quartet is, however, maintained by the reappearance, towards the end, of the nostalgic trio in A major. The musical language of the quartet shows how, despite the passage of decades, Fano remained faithful to his aesthetic convictions and to the great instrumental models which he believed in. From Brahms, whose influence is evident in the polyphonic density and metrical elasticity of the first movement, likewise the rhythmic spirit of the Scherzo, to the last Beethoven quartets, from which come a certain propensity to use an abstract language, constructed with materials which are apparently light; from the unpredictable sequence of the tonal fields, reminiscent of Schubert, to the chromatic reappraisal of the great contrapuntal tradition which occurred, especially in the world of organ composers, at the turn of the nineteenth century: a tradition which leaves unmistakable traces of Reger's works in the compositional treatment of the Fugue. ~Carlida Steffan