Louis Abbiate published Préludes et Fugues in 1901. They are the most sophisticated and bold contrapuntal pieces ever written for unaccompanied cello. His music largely consists in scenes created by intertwining independent and modest melodic lines to effect a dialogue. Delighted by rhetorical diversity and having a gift for the management of ‘space,’ Abbiate writes out two, three, and even four voices to be played on a cello with just four strings—in contrast, for example, to the more well known solo cello writing of Bach, whose Suites are full of ingenuity, but more typically only suggestive of multiple lines.
Grasped as an unfolding musical conversation, each fugue has a discernable, natural logic to consider. The careful listener can follow two or three lines of sound, pick out the variants, and likely discover something new in each rehearing. Préludes are interleaved with the fugues to provide some solace. Less strict, their lines are placed beneath the surface texture in a free form of elaborate noodling. Ultimately, they act as staging areas on the way to the high art of the fugue—a mystery to all but the initiated.
There is something optimistic and compelling about this performance. There is a goodness about it that possesses the strength of virtue. Enjoy our recording.
The artistry of Peter C. Dzialo, cello
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