WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Flagello: Violin Concerto, Etc / Oliveira, Gonzalez, Et Al


Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Artek   Catalog #: 36   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Elmar OliveiraSusan Gonzalez
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



FLAGELLO Symphonic Aria. Mirra: Interlude; Dance. The Sisters: Interludio. Violin Concerto. 1 The Rainy Day. 2 The Brook. 3 Beyond the Horizon: Ruth’s Aria. 4 Canto. 5 Polo I. 6 Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Polo II 6 John McLaughlin Williams, cond; Elmar Oliveira (vn); 1 Susan Gonzalez (sop); 2–6 Ukraine Natl RSO; Anthony Sbordoni (orchestrator) 1–6 ARTEK 36 (74:02 Text and Translation)


Previous issues in Walter Simmons’s groundbreaking series of Flagello productions featured distinguished performers resurrecting—idiomatically and with aplomb—major works: for instance, his First Symphony and Theme, Variations, and Fugue (Naxos 8.559148, Fanfare 27:1), the Second and Third Piano Concertos (Artek 2, Fanfare 23:1, 23:2), the First Piano Concerto and the Concerto sinfonico for saxophone quartet and orchestra (Naxos 8.559296, Fanfare 30:3). Those are works of startling expressive power, exhilarating in their essentially tragic outlook. With the latter issue we began to be introduced to Flagello’s vocal works, given with Susan Gonzalez’s stridently edged soprano.


The songs included here, originally for piano and voice or left in short score and orchestrated by Anthony Sbordoni, present the listener with the conundrum of a major composer (and talented painter, represented by the album cover) tone deaf, so to speak, to the warp of words and the woof of meaning. The Rainy Day , for instance, inflates Longfellow’s innocuous, incipiently bathetic lament (“Thy fate is the common fate of all/Into each life some rain must fall”) to bleakly cataclysmic proportions, while The Brook , Tennyson’s purling idyll, swells to a veritable Mississippi in Flagello’s apprehension. Nor does it help that Gonzalez sings “smoldering”—which makes no sense—in Longfellow’s line, “The vine still clings to the moldering wall.” As his own poet, whether in English or Italian, Flagello is a verbal contortionist—“I now know what I did not know before: The wounds of mind, and heart, and soul . . .” (Ruth’s Aria). Does this matter? In the last instance, at least, words make verbally explicit the anguish implicit in the music, though at the cost of courting bathos and undercutting the effect. All of these songs would be more effective as orchestral pieces after the manner of the brooding Symphonic Aria opening the program. This is especially true of the two Polo songs. “Polo,” Simmons notes, “is a genre of flamenco song of Arabian origin.” Boppy rhythm lends them a sardonically upbeat cast, belied by their tortured lyrics (“See that if I don’t die/The black misery wears me out”) generating an ambiguity less rich than perplexing. Taken together, the songs leave one wondering how so resourceful a composer—or, perhaps, how so sympathetic a critic, c’est moi —could have taken so many stultifying wrong turns. A still available album (Phoenix 125) issued in 1995 with Flagello conducting the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma in settings of Byron’s She Walks in Beauty (with Joann Grillo), Emily Brontë’s Remembranc e (Maya Randolph), and the Contemplazioni di Michaelangelo (Nancy Tatum), if not sufficiently provocative to set the Tiber alight, nevertheless show an expert matching of manner to matter notably lacking in the present clutch. Given that the songs in the present program were orchestrated by another hand, let us give the composer benefit of the doubt.


The two interludes, from operas composed as Flagello approached 30, play for around seven minutes each and follow a similar pattern of working unmemorable motifs very slowly to a climactic clinch before ebbing away. Neither makes one eager to hear the scenes they join. The brief, brutal Dance from Mirra , on the other hand, suggests pith, sinew, high drama. “The opera is extravagantly romantic in style, brimful of emotional extremes,” Simmons tells us, in his extensive, closely informed notes, “and requires a large orchestra, full chorus, dancers, plus an onstage band.” Perhaps Mirra ’s long-drawn Interlude possesses more resonance and impact in the context of the opera, “a horrifying tale of incestuous love within the royal family of ancient Cyprus.” That suggests genuine operatic possibilities.


“Discouraged by the lack of interest in his music, Flagello left many major works, including the Violin Concerto, in short score, intending to orchestrate them if the opportunity for a performance appeared. At the time of his death in 1994, quite a few such works remained in short score, so the Flagello estate engaged the talented composer and music editor Anthony Sbordoni to prepare performing editions of most of these compositions.” In the Violin Concerto, at least, the upshot is the Flagello sound, exuberant and glittering—the Violin Concerto seems to have been a particular beneficiary of the composer’s example in the piano concertos, the second of which preceded it and which the Violin Concerto’s already characteristic gestures forecast. The two works share a similar, occasionally explosive, volatility, and an effusive lyricism which seems the utterance of a soul on fire. Oliveira is hand-in-glove with the composer—there is nothing tentative here, every note tells. If the first movement is all singing turbulence, the second is another of the composer’s essays in bleak anguish—bittersweet, hesitant, muted, penetrating. Though not without its thunders and bizarrerie , the third movement is a relaxed romp propelled by brilliant gaiety, rounding off a substantial work—and not in length only!—playing just under half-an-hour. And it is for the Violin Concerto that this album is enthusiastically recommended. Sound is immediate and detailed in a spacious aural frame allowing Gonzalez and Oliveira palpable dialogue with the orchestra.


FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphonic Aria by Nicolas Flagello
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
2. Mirra: Interlude and Dance by Nicolas Flagello
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
3. The Sisters: Interludio by Nicolas Flagello
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
4. Concerto for Violin by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Elmar Oliveira (Violin)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
5. The Rainy Day by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
6. The Brook by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
7. Beyond the Horizon, Act 3: Ruth's Aria by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
8. Canto by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
9. Polo 1 by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra
10. Polo 2 by Nicolas Flagello
Performer:  Susan Gonzalez (Soprano)
Conductor:  John McLaughlin Williams
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Radio Symphony Orchestra

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook