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Rolla: Viola Concertos, Symphony in D & Tantum ergo / Schiavo, Vitale, Braconi, Il Demetrio

Release Date: 02/01/2019 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 95504  
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

As both conductor at La Scala from 1802 to 1833, and a professor at the new conservatoire in Milan, Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841) was the heartbeat of Milanese music in the turbulent early decades of the 19th century. He was also an accomplished performer on both violin and viola, and his own compositional output reflects his instrumental mastery, filtered through his experience of leading the Italian premieres of quartets and symphonies by Beethoven as well as operas by Mozart: he was a complete musician of his time. The F major Viola Concerto opening this attractive new album belongs to Rolla’s apprentice years in service to the ducal court at Parma. With its uncompromising technical demands and unwavering focus on the solo instrument, the Read more concerto represents a missing link between the idioms of Tartini and Paganini. The dawn of bel canto may be discerned in the slow movement of the album’s concluding D minor Viola Concerto, which concludes with a charmingly bucolic Rondo. Dating from Rolla’s Milanese years, the 1805 Tantum ergo also features a concertante role for the viola, in sinuous accompaniment to the vocal bass soloist: a highly original device perhaps prompted by Mozart’s famous Sinfonia Concertante. As a performer, Rolla reserved the most haunting melodies and moments for himself: After a vocal cadenza on the closing Amen it is the viola that sets the seal on the work with an intensely lyrical phrase and a brilliantly virtuosic stretta. The D major Sinfonia likewise belongs to the first decade of the 1800s – infused with Rossinian verve and bubbling with operatic drama in the quick outer movements. The Milanese violist Simonide Braconi plays Rolla’s music to the manner born, being the long-standing principal violist at La Scala. He is accompanied here by a chamber orchestra based in nearby Pavia and specialising in Classical-era works by neglected composers. Read less

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Elegant showpieces April 22, 2019 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "Alessandro Rolla, a contemporary of Mozart, was perhaps the greatest violist of his age. And he was a pretty good violinist, too. After all -- he taught Paganini. As was the practice of the time, Rolla the composer wrote concertos for Rolla the virtuoso to take on tour. This release includes two of those viola concertos, plus a symphony and a setting of "Tantum Ergo." Rolla's concertos are well-crafted examples of the late Classical style. Phrases are neatly and evenly shaped. Dynamics vary, with rousing crescendos. Structures are elegantly outlined harmonically. What gives these concertos life is the beauty and intricacy of the solo viola part. It's thought that many of the string techniques Paganini popularized came from Rolla. It's possible. The solo parts are challenging, requiring agility and dexterity (particularly the double-stopped passages). Soloist Simonide Braconi is in clear command of this material, and he performs it with gusto. The Symphony in D major is on par with mid-career Mozart and Haydn symphonies. It's enjoyable from start to finish, with plenty of energetic tunes to keep things moving along. The Tantum Ergo from 1805 is something of an oddball. It's a work for bass voice, viola concertante, and orchestra. The low voice combined with the viola's mid- and lower range has a warm, dark blend that's balanced by the light accompanying ensemble. Although Simonide Braconi did a fine job, I was a bit disappointed by the overall sound. To my ears, the ensemble was sometimes a bit ragged. Basso Salvo Vitale seemed to have problems sustaining his lowest notes. In some cases, they sounded underpowered." Report Abuse
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