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Respighi: La Primavera, La Pentola Magica / Adriano, Slovak Radio

Release Date: 12/16/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570741   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Jana ValàskovàVladimir KubovcikRichard HaanMiroslav Dvorsky,   ... 
Conductor:  Adriano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony OrchestraSlovak Philharmonic Chorus Bratislava
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RESPIGHI La primavera (orch. Adriano). 1 4 lirichi su poesie popolari armene. 2 La pentola magica 3 Adriano, cond; Richard Haan ( Praying One ); 1 Miroslav Dvorský ( Young Man ); 1 Jana Read more Valásková ( Sirvard ); 1 Vladimír Kubov?ik ( Old Man ); 1 Denisa Šlepkovská (mez); 2 Jakub Francisci (trb); 3 Slovak PCh; 1 Slovak RSO NAXOS 8.570741 (79:20)

These may be unfamiliar works, but there will be no mistaking the composer of the opening of La primavera —it could fit seamlessly into The Fountains of Rome —nor the echoes of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le coq d’or in its fifth movement. The Russian’s influence is obvious throughout this work, with its bold colors and brash exuberance united by Respighi, with surprising success, to Gregorian ecclesiastical modes. A setting of Italian verse by flamboyant 20th-century Armenian poet Gostan Zarian, the texts are, judging from the synopsis provided, uncomfortably naive. However, those of us with no Italian need not be concerned, since no text or translation is provided. This recording—a re-release of a 1994 marco polo CD from a six-disc series of neglected Respighi—features Slovakian artists relatively unknown in the U.S. The one familiar name is Dvorský. This is not, however, the more famous Peter, but rather Miroslav, one of four Dvorský brothers who sing opera. All of the soloists are skillful, though one could occasionally wish for more abandon. Dvorský’s Young Man is pleasingly ardent, with nice thrust on the top. Baritone Richard Haan’s tendency to wobble detracts only a bit from his noble Praying One, Bass Vladimir Kubov?ik is a sonorous Old Man, and soprano Jana Valásková creates the beautiful young Sirvard charmingly, if with a bit more maturity and edge to her tone than ideal.

Continuing the Armenian theme, Quattro lirichi —from the same marco polo release—is a setting of poems by Zorian and 12th-century theologian and saint, Nerses Shenorhali. Originally written for Respighi’s wife Elsa, it, like La primavera , achieves an archaic pastoral quality through use of church modes. Gregorian chant was Elsa’s academic specialty and she was instrumental in introducing the modes to Respighi’s compositional palette. Mezzo Denisa Šlepkovská has a luxuriant voice, but her performance of the songs, fine though it is, might have been enhanced by a bit more subtlety and shading. Adriano orchestrated Respighi’s piano accompaniment for a chamber orchestra approximation of an Armenian deste ensemble. Elsa Respighi approved, and it certainly works. La pentola magica , a 1991 marco polo release, is a ballet pastiche of works by lesser-known 19th-century Russian composers, with original material in the same style and an ethereal setting of an Armenian folk theme for boy soprano. Only the most hardened of detractors of Respighi’s “new old music” could fail to be won over by this beguiling work. As in its successor, La boutique fantasque , Respighi succeeds in retaining the character of the originals while unifying them in a clever and cohesive new work.

I hope that this Naxos re-release, the second from the series, signals the eventual release of the ballet and cantata discs, currently only available as arkivmusic.com CD-R reissues, alas without Adriano’s informative liner notes. Adriano, the Swiss conductor and Respighi expert who led all of the original series, invests these works with energy and beauty. The Bratislava-based ensemble performs well, though the winds are less distinguished than the strings. The choir is excellent. The sound on this release is slightly brighter and clearer than the marco polo issue, though neither issue has a solid bottom. Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic have recorded an excellent La pentola magica for Chandos (10081) coupled with La boutique fantasque . While better played than the Naxos, it remains a second choice for me, as Adriano and his orchestra realize more of the dreamy charm of the work. Especially at Naxos’s prices, admirers of Respighi’s more famous scores should not hesitate.

FANFARE: Ronald E. Grames
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Works on This Recording

La primavera by Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Jana Valàskovà (Soprano), Vladimir Kubovcik (Bass), Richard Haan (Baritone),
Miroslav Dvorsky (Tenor)
Conductor:  Adriano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Chorus Bratislava
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1918-1919; Rome, Italy 
Liriche (4) su parole di poeti armeni, P 132 by Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Denisa Slepkovská (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Adriano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; Italy 
Notes: Arranger: Adriano. 
La pentola magica by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Adriano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Italy 

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