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Respighi: Vetrate di chiesa, Il tramonto & Trittico botticelliano / Neschling, Liege Royal Philharmonic

Release Date: 01/05/2018 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 2250  
Composer:  Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Anna Caterina Antonacci
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Philharmonique Royal De Ličge
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available from John Neschling and the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège ijn their Respighi series on BIS: Sinfonia Drammatica & Belfagor Overture; Metamorphoseon; Impressioni brasiliane & La boutique fantasque.

This is a wonderful program, both for the performances and for the intelligent overview it gives of Respighi’s art generally. It begins with a piece for chamber orchestra, continues with an intimate work for voice and string quartet, and concludes with one of the composer’s splashiest orchestral
Read more blockbusters. The progression is logical, and makes an excellent hour-plus of pleasurable listening. It’s also sensationally well engineered.

In the Botticelli pictures, Neschling adopts leisurely (but never droopy) tempos that allow every detail of Respighi’s imaginative scoring to register. In The Birth of Venus, you can easily imagine how the violins’ ostinato figures actually trace the delicate peaks of the waves in Botticelli’s painting. It’s lovely and consistently ear-catching. Il Tramonto (The Sunset), after a poem by Shelley, showcases the art of Anna Caterina Antonacci. Best known for her Monteverdi recordings, she’s a fine singing actress. Although voice tends to spread under pressure, her diction and way with the text is absolutely riveting, and Neschling paces the piece perfectly (about sixteen and a half minutes).

All of which brings us to Church Windows, still something of a rarity–in concert at least. If this performance doesn’t quite match the classic Ormandy/Philadelphia version in the blazing second movement (Saint Michael Archangel), it comes close enough as makes no difference, and it’s magnificently sustained and really powerfully recorded. The organ/orchestra balances in the last movement are just about perfect, while the bass frequencies in the closing pages are crushing. In sum, if you’re into this wonderfully colorful and entertaining music, don’t hesitate for a minute.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz) Read less

Works on This Recording

Trittico botticelliano by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Philharmonique Royal De Ličge
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Rome, Italy 
Il tramonto by Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Anna Caterina Antonacci (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Philharmonique Royal De Ličge
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Italy 
Church Windows by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Philharmonique Royal De Ličge
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 The colour wheel turned up to 11 January 8, 2018 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "As with earlier discs in this Respighi series from BIS, John Neschling has the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liege firing on all cylinders, which is such a plus for a composer who provides so many opportunities for the orchestra to show off. So it's quite a surprise to see that two of these three pieces didn't begin as rich and gaudy orchestral showpieces. Vetrate Di Chiesa (Church Windows) started out as Tre preludi sopra melodie gregoriane, three charming pieces written in 1919-21 for solo piano. In 1925 Respighi opened up and colourized these melodies, and added a fourth work as a bonus. Listen to that opulent final piece, San Gregorio Magno; this is wide-screen, Technicolor music, and it's not afraid of nudging up against effects some might find vulgar. It's great fun, so you might not notice at first how Neschling has his fine musicians playing with such determination and precision. Il Tramanto (The Sunset) is a cantata based on a Shelley poem that Respighi wrote in 1914, for mezzo-soprano and string quartet. It's played here with a full complement of strings, and sung by the splendid soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci. Even without winds, brass, percussion and organ, everything I've said about colour in Church Windows is relevant here. This is partly due to superb playing and singing, and partly because of the the 35-year-old composer's skillful blend of the styles of his compatriot Puccini and a couple of composers from the other side of the Alps: Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. I'd never heard this music before, and my view of Respighi has gone up considerably now that I know it well. The Trittico Botticelliano is my favourite Respighi work, and it receives a lavish recording here. Neschling translates Respighi's fine sense of both melody and orchestral colour, analogues of Botticelli's legendary line and colour, into a perfectly balanced performance. It's great to see this Brazilian conductor, who completely nailed the Villa-Lobos Choros series in his 2008 recordings with OSESP, also from BIS, doing the same on the other side of the Atlantic. This is the second disc I've reviewed in 2018, and I'm pleased to be able to praise the cover design once again. I hope we can keep that streak going! It's based on a detail from the 1914 International Art Glass Catalogue by the National Ornamental Glass Manufacturers Association of the United States and Canada. You can download the entire catalogue in PDF format at the Internet Archive; it's gorgeous!" Report Abuse
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