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Casella: Sinfonia Per Orchestra, Italia / Alun Francis


Release Date: 08/25/2009 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777265   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alfredo Casella
Conductor:  Alun Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


This is a major release. Alfredo Casella's Sinfonia is actually his Third Symphony. It was written in 1939-40 for the Chicago Symphony, enjoyed a highly successful premiere, then vanished along with the composer's reputation in the political fallout following World War II. Like so many Italian composers of his generation, Casella was sympathetic to Mussolini's government, which went out of its way to patronize (and co-opt) the arts. It wasn't exactly the kind of thing that Hitler was doing in Germany, but it was close enough. Still, it didn't seem to hurt Respighi--but then he had Toscanini on his side and the good fortune to die in 1936, whereas Casella made it until 1947.

Be that as
Read more it may, Casella was a finer composer than Respighi, by and large, and certainly a more interesting one. His Sinfonia is a magnificent work lasting some three-quarters of an hour. Although it employs traditional forms, it doesn't sound even remotely like anyone else, particularly in regard to its melodic idiom which is at once modern/tonal but remarkably personal. Brilliantly scored, atmospheric, and finely wrought, it should be at least as popular as, say, Shostakovich of the same period, and it's easily the finest 20th century symphony by an Italian composer. This performance does it full justice, being very well played and naturally recorded. Conductor Alun Francis deserves a great deal of credit for delivering such a convincing performance of a complex, unfamiliar work that hopefully will make its way back into the repertoire.

Italia dates from the start of Casella's career--1909--at the time of his great infatuation with Mahler. As you might expect, it's a big, bold, super-emotional piece with an unusual amount of tragic sentiment mixed in with the usual Italian high spirits (you know, Faniculi Fanicula and all that). Again, it's excitingly played, and makes an excellent disc-mate for the larger symphony. Honestly, this is major music by a composer who deserves to be far better known. Do get to know it. [7/9/2009]

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 3, Op. 63 by Alfredo Casella
Conductor:  Alun Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939-1940 
2.
Italia, Op. 11 by Alfredo Casella
Conductor:  Alun Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Large-Scale 20th Century Works March 2, 2013 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "This CPO disk presents works from 2 different periods in Italian composer Alfredo Casella's career. The Rhapsody Italia (Op. 11) is an early work and builds on well-known Italian folk melodies, much like other nationalistic composers seeking to express musically some elements of their native cultural environments. Written just prior to World War 2, Sinfonia per Orchestra (Symphony #3) is a large-scale, openly structured symphonic work. Occasionally using dissonant textures, the symphony develops a linear progression of melodies, clearly and forcfully stated. This is a very nice performance by Cologne's WDR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alun Francis. I recommend this recording to all who are interested in post-Romantic orchestral music. For those who are attracted to Casella's style, it is also a worthwhile endeavor to investigate Naxos' very excellent series of Casella's recordings, which feature the Rome Symphony Orchestra." Report Abuse
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