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Casella: La Donna Serpente; Introduzione, Aria E Toccata; Partita / La Vecchia, Rome SO

Casella / Orchestra Sinfonica Di Roma / La Vecchia
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573005   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alfredo Casella
Performer:  Sun Hee You
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The composer that Casella most resembles in his chameleon-like musical personality is probably Martinu, and this is nowhere more true than in the Partita for piano and small orchestra. Scored for the distinctive combination of oboe, two clarinets, bass clarinet, three trumpets, timpani and strings, the work is an unalloyed delight. Listen to the end of the first movement recapitulation, and you’ll be hooked. Like Martinu’s Sinfonietta giocosa, the lightweight title in fact conceals a work of genuine substance, lasting (in this case) just over half an hour. The central Passacaglia (a form much exploited by Casella) is profoundly beautiful, and its evocative use of trills reveals that Casella learned
Read more a trick or two from the first Nachtmusik of Mahler’s Seventh, which he arranged for piano four-hands.

The Introduzione, aria e toccata again recalls (or foreshadows) Martinu–in this case the Toccata e due canzone. Like that piece, this is a substantial, at times brooding work brimming with memorable invention. The music’s stylized, neo-Baroque idiom couldn’t be farther removed from the nearly contemporary orchestral fragments from Casella’s only opera, La donna serpente (The Snake Woman), after a play by Gozzi. These “fragments” are actually pretty extensive, lasting a full half an hour, and if they pay homage to anyone I’d have to mention Rimsky-Korsakov. The Military March that ends the first suite evokes a fairytale atmosphere similar to that of The Golden Cockerel or Tsar Sultan, but there’s nothing Russian about the melodic material, which is completely personal.

This disc marks the conclusion of Naxos’ Casella series, and it has been a wonderful journey. As with the other discs, the performances are excellent. Sun Hee You does a wonderful job in the Partita, offering effortless virtuosity and an aptly light touch. There’s only one other recording available, featuring the very good Joshua Pierce, coupled to concertante works by Respighi and Rachmaninov, but conductor Franceso La Vecchia proves himself more imaginative an accompanist the Anton Nanut, and he also has the better orchestra and engineering. Casella truly was a great composer. The evidence on this disc is incontestable.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

introduction, Aria and Toccata by Alfredo Casella
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Partita for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 42 by Alfredo Casella
Performer:  Sun Hee You (Piano)
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; Italy 
La donna serpente: Symphonic Fragments, Op. 50 by Alfredo Casella
Conductor:  Francesco La Vecchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 AN EXCITING FIND July 11, 2013 By Terrell Rodefer (Van Nuys, CA) See All My Reviews "Of course, what one appreciates in music is totally subjective...so this review will only have meaning for music enthusiasts who like the same kind of music I do, which is, mainly, that which comes from or is based on the progressive composers of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s-- innovators such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, and so on...and in later years, composers such as John Adams, Steve Reich--you get the picture (or hear the sound). That said, what a delight it was to discover a peer and fellow countryman of Respighi's whose sound and formulation is exciting, stimulating, and mesmerizing. I buy unfortunately too many albums that I listen to once, then set aside to be heard again soon but never receive a second listen. Not on purpose. Just not enough time to go back. However, this album has remained on the player for weeks at a time. Have to admit: I'm addicted. You will, too, if you're drawn to wonderful melodies and themes punctuated by surprisingly modern (for the period) note combinations. Highly recommend giving it a try." Report Abuse
 Nothing spectacular May 10, 2013 By Frank Hudson (BOWIE, MD) See All My Reviews "Music is not particularly memorable, orchestra is adequate." Report Abuse
 Worthy Modern Italian Works February 28, 2013 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "The Rome Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Francesco LaVecchia, gives a very fine performance of 3 works by the 20th century Italian composer Alfredo Casella. Casella's music is difficult to characterize definitively, but in general it is tonal, tends toward monophonic thematic development, is occasionally slightly dissonant (for brief moments), and overall seems quite pleasant and easy on the ear. On this particular recording, one of the very satisfying surprises is the quality of the orchestral excerpts from Casella's opera 'The Snake Woman' (La donna serpente). I was also struck by and impressed with Casella's opening work on the program, 'Introduction, Aria, and Toccata', a piece of considerable sophistication. If you take to this disk in a positive manner (and I think you will), you may want to explore other works by Casella in Naxos' ongoing survey of his orchestral music, especially his three very fine and forceful symphonies." Report Abuse
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