Adriano Cirillo: Deux Valses

Featured publications are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Edition HH is one of the few independent boutique publishers whose releases consistently impress, with an enterprising and eclectic catalogue that ranges from Baroque and Classical rediscoveries to contemporary compositions.

Among the latter, Edition HH publishes the work of Italian composer Adriano Cirillo, born in 1951 in Bari. Cirillo studied with acclaimed composer Nino Rota, who is perhaps best known for his scores to movies such as The Glass Mountain and The Godfather, but who also composed ten operas and a significant body of concert works.

Rota’s influence is palpable in Cirillo’s hugely enjoyable Duex Valses, freshly published by Edition HH and the subject of this short review…

Cirillo writes,

Having not read the aforementioned work I can’t comment further on that aspiration, but am happy to say that these two short pieces are an absolute delight, for both player and listeners.

Both pieces are suitable for early advanced players (around UK Grade 6), and are composed in a post-romantic style that would be at home in a piano concert, a movie, or even a café.

Valse Nostalgique performed by pianist Luigi Di Ilio

First comes the Valse Nostalgique, which meanders between C sharp minor, F minor (a delightful modulation!), F sharp minor, and back to C sharp minor. There are enough B and E sharps in the piece, not to mention several double sharps, to keep the advanced player alert and sight-readers humble, but it is soon apparent that the music sits wonderfully under the hand and is a pianistic joy.

Cirillo certainly has an acute gift for spinning a melodic line; here the main tune weaves its way beautifully through the delicious harmonic twists that underpin it, and will surely delight and melt the hearts of listeners everywhere.

The Valse Mélancolique is somewhat darker in tone; for me it evokes a latin Satie with its wayward fin de siècle harmony and tone. Tonal centres are harder to locate, but with four sharps in the key signature we are perhaps relieved when the piece finally lands in E major rather than C sharp minor for its conclusion!

Those familiar with Edition HH publications will know what to expect: a smaller than usual sheet music publication (A4) with a smart cover, housing a very tidy score printed on high quality cream paper.

Neither piece includes suggested fingering, but given how well they sit under the hand there are perhaps some significant pedagogic “wins” to be gained from helping students work out their own in this instance.

The notation occupies 5 of the 12 pages, with a generous allowance of title pages, credits, and the composer’s brief introduction.

This slight publication offers up two lovely and beautifully evocative vignettes, and I have found myself returning to them repeatedly for cultural comfort during the challenges of the present coronavirus outbreak.

Here we can revel in memories of former times, while losing ourselves in music of genuine quality and compositional ingenuity.

This is, then, a timely and very highly recommended release, and one which I will certainly cherish.

Deux Valses can be ordered from Edition HH here.
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Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.