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Respighi: Complete Orchestral Music Vol 1 / La Vecchia, Rome Symphony Orchestra


Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94392  
Composer:  Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Born in 1879, Ottorino Respighi’s musical education was comprehensive, his technical abilities accomplished, and his understanding of music assured, even as a young man. After studying performance, composition and musicology in Bologna, composition in Berlin and orchestration in St Petersburg with Rimsky-Korsakov, he became professor of composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1913.Although his extensive education had equipped him with all the necessary technical skills and musical knowledge to excel, he had, to this point, failed to translate his considerable abilities into the composition of truly brilliant music. However, his arrival in Rome, and the city’s beauty, history, architecture and people, stimulated his Read more creativity like never before, and allowed him to craft works of great passion and colour.

Respighi’s first great triumph as a composer – and the work that he remains most well known for to this day – is his ‘Roman trilogy’, which comprises the symphonic poems Feste Romane, Fontane di Roma and Pini di Roma, featured on the first disc of this set. With each individual work dedicated to one particular aspect of Rome – from its fountains to its festivals – this trilogy is an atmospheric, evocative musical journey through Rome, and demonstrates Respighi’s skill as an orchestral composer.

The works collected on the second disc also highlight Respighi’s masterful control of timbre and orchestral colour. While Gli Uccelli blends Baroque forms with late-Romantic musical language in an evocation of birdsong, the neo-Classical Suite for Strings and song-inspired Suite in G minor for strings and organ display the composer’s intricate knowledge of music history.

OTHER INFORMATION:
• Recording made in Rome in 2009.
• The first volume in a series of Respighi’s complete orchestral music.
• Comprehensive booklet notes in English and Italian.
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Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Strings and Organ in G major by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1902-1905; Rome, Italy 
2. Suite for Orchestra in E major by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1901; Rome, Italy 
3. Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; Rome, Italy 
4. Gli uccelli "The Birds" by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Rome, Italy 
5. Fountains of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; Rome, Italy 
6. Feste romane by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Rome, Italy 

Sound Samples

Feste romane (Roman Festivals), P. 157: I. Circenses
Feste romane (Roman Festivals), P. 157: II. Il Giubileo
Feste romane (Roman Festivals), P. 157: III. L'Ottobrata
Feste romane (Roman Festivals), P. 157: IV. La Befana
Römische Brunnen: I. La fontana di Valle all'alba
Römische Brunnen: II. La fontana del Tritone al mattino
Römische Brunnen: II. La fontana di Trevi al meriggio
Römische Brunnen: IV. La fontana di Villa Medici al tramonto
Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141: I. I pini di Villa Borghese (The Pines of the Villa Borghese)
Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141: II. Pini presso una catacomba (Pines Near a Catacomb)
Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141: III. I pini del Gianicolo (The Pines of the Janiculum)
Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141: IV. I pini della via Appia (The Pines of the Appian Way)
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154: I. Preludio
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154: II. La Colomba
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154: III. La Gallina
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154: IV. L'Usignuolo
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154: V. Il Cucu
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): I. Ciaccona
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): II. Siciliana
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): III. Giga
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): IV. Sarabanda
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): V. Burlesca
Suite for Strings, P. 41 (revised S. Di Vittorio): VI. Rigaudon
Suite in G Major, P. 58: I. Preludio
Suite in G Major, P. 58: II. Aria
Suite in G Major, P. 58: III. Pastorale
Suite in G Major, P. 58: IV. Cantico

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 When in Rome. August 31, 2012 By John W. (Woori Yallock Vic., Australia) See All My Reviews "This is a very faithful recording of The Pines and Fountains of Rome, as Respighi envsaged in ths work. If you turn the volume up, close your eyes, and think you are a citizen of Caesar's Rome, you will be well rewarded.
The 2nd disc is fascinating, rarely heard,and lovely sounding."
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 Great July 16, 2012 By William Bohmer (Cincinnati, OH) See All My Reviews "THe Reespigi Recording is an excellent recording, and I would highly recommend it for all classical music lovers!" Report Abuse
 A new look at old war horses March 23, 2012 By Martin Selbrede (Round Rock, TX) See All My Reviews "The Suite for Strings in G minor and the Suite in G for Strings and Organ receive excellent, beautifully-recorded performances. The big question is, what did La Vecchia do with the Roman Trilogy and The Birds? Is there some reason to buy this set if you're not a completionist? The surprising answer is, Yes.

Surprising, because as I listened, it took time for La Vecchia to win me over to a consistent conceit of his: remarkably slow tempi for the quieter movements. E.g., the Janiculum section of Pines, at 9:17, is arguably the slowest ever recorded, and we see similarly slow tempi in Feste's Jubilee and October Festival (except for the mandolin serenade, which enters abruptly as the fastest anyone has taken the triple meter). The outer movements of Fountains, ditto. Natural reaction to a listener who owns every available recording (and out of print ones): after the first few bars, you think "Boy, this is dragging" ... until you notice all the gorgeous details in the sonic fabric that were obliterated by the other interpreters. Inner voices, phrase shapings, beauty formerly unrecognized. My go-to Birds is the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's take (and it's still a keeper), but La Vecchia makes other versions seem rushed because so much is lost at the quicker tempi we're accustomed to.

Although an organ work is part of this two-CD set (more to come in this CD series by Brilliant Classics, FYI), the Roman trilogy lacks any organ (which is exposed at the climax of Circenses when it's used -- omitting it might work here, but not when La Vecchia records Vetrate di Chiesa later in this series). La Vecchia takes Respighi at his word in Circenses, to the effect that the martyr's hymn prevails until drowned in the tumult. La Vecchia therefore emphasizes it, phrasing it carefully and making it the focal point, not the brass snarling in dissonant convolutions around the string theme. The horns are bit more recessed in this movement than I like, and even the climax is slower than most (compare the reckless pace taken by Goosens at the climax -- who also omits the pipe organ). La Befana here isn't the best on record, a bit slower than most, but gaining some clarity at the expense of tempo. The final saltarello isn't as exciting as others have delivered it (Goosens, Muti, Maazel with Cleveland, etc.), but the brass fanfares suddenly kick up the tempo into the coda, making the syncopations even more violent than usual. In other words, like John Neschling, La Vecchia plays some games with tempo changes -- and perhaps it's fair to say that La Vecchia's affectations make more sense (Neschling's accelerando in Jubilee was a Jumble).

One would think there's an authoritative air about any Respighi project being performed by the putative orchestra of Rome (the city being Respighi's adopted home town, although it took time before he was won over by it). And I believe this CD set satisfies that requirement in an interesting way, by setting new standards and allowing us to actually HEAR what Respighi wrote in many instances. P.S., for those who prefer their Roman Trilogy to be chock full of deep organ pedals, opt for the Royal Philharmonic under Josep Caballe-Domenech. That is one point Cabbale-Domenech's version has going for it (also true for Malcolm Sargent's early stereo era version).

But Caballe-Domenech's idiosyncrasies don't make as much sense as La Vecchia's, despite La Vecchia's extreme take on slower tempi (counterintuitive, yes, but true nonetheless -- even for The Birds where new details come to the fore that are stunning in their poetic effect -- pace, Orpheus C.O.). Even the Via Appia in Pines, while slower than usual (at first), brings out details (deep piano tones ring longer and more profoundly than usual, the cor anglais is phrased with more emotion, etc.) that make slowing down to smell the roses worth the extra time. La Vecchia gives us the intimate detail of Antonio Pappano (and more) without sacrificing orchestral force when Respighi calls for it. At this price, it's a no-brainer. So... when's Volume 2 coming out?

(Note: although the description claims this was recorded in 2009, that's only true for The Birds and the two string suites -- the Roman Trilogy was recorded in 2010. The enclosed booklet, written in a galvanizing way to make its subject interesting, is fine for those new to Respighi, but experienced listeners are not likely to learn anything new from it. A few typos mar the booklet -- I guess printers' devils hate classical music.)"
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