COMPOSITIONS

THE VOCAL PRODUCTION

The vocal production of Daniele Maffeis includes both sacred works and secular pieces. In the first case it is necessary to differentiate the music intended for liturgical use from the rest; that is, the complete masses and the individual pieces (introits, offertories, Marian motets…) from the devotional pieces on Italian text, whose typology varies from the short page for solo voice and organ, to the wide score for voices and instruments. The liturgical compositions naturally respect the criteria advocated by the Cecilian reform, but they do not propose a formalistic tracing of the models of the past. On the contrary, they seek to place at the service of the rite and of popular understanding the “ancient” contrapuntal wisdom and the “modern” harmonic sensibility. Even in the non-liturgical pieces the educational and edifying purpose should not be neglected: music not for the concert hall, but for a more ingenuous listening, even if not necessarily simple in its structure. Among secular music, a distinction should be made between theatrical and non-theatrical works. The first group includes the three operas, each of which corresponds to a different genre (the comic act, the melodrama and the opera-oratorio) and the didactic-recreational ‘operettas’, in which recitation alternates with musical numbers, whose subjects are generally fable-like and where the protagonists are often children. The second group includes numerous chamber lyrics for voice and piano (some of which were later orchestrated) on Italian texts, but also dialectal and some pieces for several voices with or without piano accompaniment. The authors of the texts belong for the most part to the circle of personal acquaintances of the composer and, also for this reason, can constitute an interesting testimony of the Italian cultural world, before and after the Second World War.

THE INSTRUMENTAL PRODUCTION

The instrumental production of Daniele Maffeis occupies about one third of his total catalogue; also in this case it is possible to divide the compositions into three groups, that is, pieces for solo instrument (piano or organ), chamber music, pieces for orchestra with or without soloist. There are not many works dedicated to the organ, the composer’s instrument of choice, due to his love and ability for improvisation on the instrument; for organ and piano, instead, we find the first drafts of the most ambitious symphonic works. Here, as in the chamber music sphere, we find pages of traditional conception and structure (sonatas for organ, piano solo or in duo with violin) and pieces of freer formulation.

These are found not only in the sheet music, but also in the articulated series of pieces responding to the same poetic-musical suggestion: there are examples for piano solo, for four hands, for piano and violin or even trombone. Chamber music also includes versions with piano accompaniment of concertante pieces, preparatory drafts for the version with orchestra. The most extensive and ambitious orchestral scores belong to the sphere of programme music and share an inspiration that refers to contents or subjects linked in different ways to religion. A partial exception is the cycle of variations on a theme of the opera Le tre notti di luce (inspired by the life of Jacopone da Todi), at least from the point of view of the rigorous formal structure.