Notes and Editorial Reviews
Three Pieces for Flute and Oboe. Five Pieces for Flute and Piano. Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano. Sonata for Flute and Harp. Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Viola, Cello, and Harp
Mario Carbotta (fl); Carlo Balzaretti (pn); Marino Bedetti (ob); Cristina Bianchi (hp); Marco Bianchi (va); Carlo Parazzoli (vn); Marco Testori (vc)
DYNAMIC 8033 (56: 04)
This disc is a reissue of Dynamic CDS 172 (which was not reviewed in
, however). Nino Rota’s
complete chamber music for flute is included in this collection, which spans 1935 through 1972. Here, the works are programmed in reverse chronological order, which means that this disc begins with music that is gentle, unaffected, and very Rota-esque, and ends with music (the last two works listed above) that seems to have been influenced by Debussy and Ravel. (Of course, the combination of flute and harp in itself suggests those French composers.) I noticed the Debussy and Ravel influences before reading Danilo Prefumo’s booklet note, which says just about the same thing, so I am feeling rather good about myself right now! I believe that both the Sonata for Flute and Harp and the Quintet predate any of Rota’s film scores, which of course are the works that made him famous.
The Three Pieces for Flute and Oboe (1972) are cute and short. The titles will give you a hint about their mood: “Old Carillon,” “Old Romance,” and “The Windmill.” Even if this is unambitious music, it is extremely attractive. I can imagine it being used as a sort of morning serenade outside of someone’s window. I’d be happy to be awakened like this! The Five Pieces for Flute and Piano, also from 1972, are similarly compact. In both of these sets, melody is king, harmonies are simple, and the only thing on Rota’s mind seems to have been the amusement and gratification of listeners and performers alike. I can’t imagine anyone disliking this music, and it is performed sensitively by Carbotta and colleagues, who allow it to remain simple.
The Trio (1958) is more ambitious. The first movement alternates bustling neoclassical material with quiet passages for the three musicians. This is followed by a lightly melancholic
, and then the Trio closes with an almost ceaselessly whirling
Allegro vivace con spirito
. The Sonata for Flute and Harp (1937) is beautifully written for both instruments. While, in his later works, Rota’s glances at the past are accompanied by a wink of his eye, this sonata wears its impressionistic influences with total sincerity. In the Quintet (1935), at times Rota seems to be looking back even farther, but still at France, not at Italy. If you think the last century was full of ugliness, Rota’s music will give you faith again. These two works from the 1930s, in particular, can’t fail to make you feel good and relax you intelligently.
I have no reservations about the performances, which seem spot on, and always responsive to the music’s different styles and textures. A collection like this one is not going to come around very often, and it is fortunate that these musicians have managed it so beautifully.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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