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Rolla: Flute Concerto, Sinfonias, Etc / Carbotta, Caldi, Etc


Release Date: 01/01/2003 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 429   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alessandro Rolla
Performer:  Denis ZanchettaMario Carbotta
Conductor:  Massimiliano Caldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

When a teacher is surpassed by one of his/her brilliantly gifted students, generally only the latter is remembered, and then only if the ability as a performer and/or composer is almost completely off the Richter scale. There have been numerous cases of this throughout the history of Western music, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll pose just two to make my point: Antonio Salieri taught—and was eclipsed by—Franz Schubert, and Saverio Mercadante was mentor to Vincenzo Bellini, whose operas have been standard in the repertoire of every major company for longer than any of us can remember. The relationship between Alessandro Rolla, the subject of this evaluation, and his most famous student, Niccoló Paganini, falls into the same Read more category, but is probably less well known than either of the above.

Straddling the fence between Classicism and Romanticism, Alessandro Rolla (1757–1841) is an unusual figure in that his primary interest was in instrumental music, while the majority of his compatriots were composing works for the stage. In addition to being a respected composer and the teacher of the greatest violinist of the 19th century and perhaps all time, Rolla conducted at La Scala from 1802 until 1833, and he began teaching at Milan’s conservatory in 1808, the year it opened. Rolla was also among the earliest Italian champions of the music of Mozart and Beethoven. Rolla left posterity a significant amount of music from his 50-year career, and it has yet to be fully evaluated, let alone recorded to any extent. A contemporary of Mozart, this Neapolitan embraced the Classical style, but also morphed his approach to composition as tastes and times changed. Consistently free from academic pedantry, Rolla’s music is inventive, expressive, elegant, and noble.

Now, let’s move on to the music. The two symphonies recorded here are both in three movements, each lacking a minuet. The Symphony in D is scored for oboes and horns in pairs with strings, while the Symphony in B? lacks any wind coloration. The former has what annotator Mariateresa Dellabora terms “an irresistible theatrical character,” while the leaner but equally striking Symphony in B? offers much dynamic contrast and emotional variety by way of its forays into minore.

Of the concertos, I find the most interesting to be that for basset horn, an alto clarinet pitched in F, not E flat, as is the current practice. Written in 1829, this is a virtuoso display piece, opening with an ear-catching motif that immediately calls to mind the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C, K 467, and proceeds through three movements of sturdy craftsmanship, but also of varying inspiration. My favorite, however, is the light-hearted final Rondo that politely dances about for three and a half minutes before closing on an arpeggio in the tonic key. The eminent Swiss clarinetist Hans Rudolf Stalder and the Cologne Chamber Orchestra recorded this work during the days of vinyl; it was later re-released on compact disc (Koch Schwann Musica Mundi 316 008 F1), but its current availability is in question.

Beginning in a mock dramatic manner with several slow and dark measures, the Flute Concerto is also a fine work, both virtuosic and lyrical, and like the Bassett Horn Concerto, it was penned for an unknown performer. This is one of a few flute concertos by Rolla and one of the few concertos to come from Italy during the first quarter of the 19th century, in a time when opera was the supreme genre. Dynamic has come up with some intriguing recordings of music by Italian composers from the Baroque and Classical periods, and this one is no exception. While the repertoire isn’t earth shaking, it does appeal by way of its charm and sturdy construction. Much the same can be said for the performances. The conservative tempos place the performances squarely in the stylistic mainstream and the soloists and conductor eschew any eccentricities. Overall ensemble is commendable, yet there are brief lapses in intonation and an occasional ragged attack. Those points aside, I’m pleased to have this on my shelves, even if it is mostly for the opening symphony and my old friend, a basset horn concerto.

Michael Carter, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Horn in F major, BI 528 by Alessandro Rolla
Performer:  Denis Zanchetta (Basset-horn)
Conductor:  Massimiliano Caldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Italy 
2. Concerto for Flute in D major by Alessandro Rolla
Performer:  Mario Carbotta (Flute)
Conductor:  Massimiliano Caldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Italy 
3. Sinfonia in D major, BI 533 by Alessandro Rolla
Conductor:  Massimiliano Caldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Italy 
4. Sinfonia in B flat major, BI 540 by Alessandro Rolla
Conductor:  Massimiliano Caldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Italy 

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