music is not particularly well represented on disc. There
are, however, two Hyperion discs: one of his choral music
(CDA67017) and another with some of his orchestral works including
the suite from La Pisanella (CDA67084 with Rondo
Veneziano, Preludio a un altro
giorno and Tre Preludii Sinfonici (per L'Edipo
Re)). Many years ago, during the LP era, Lamberto
Gardelli and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande recorded
the second, fourth and fifth
movements from the suite, and the Concerto de l’estate.
That is what we have here. Both pieces are good examples
of Pizzetti’s Neo-classicism: colourful, superbly scored
music in much the same vein as Pizzetti’s somewhat older
contemporary Respighi. La Pisanella is a ballet
written to a libretto by Gabriel D’Annunzio for Ida Rubinstein.
They had made a success of their collaboration with Debussy
with Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien composed
two years earlier. Pizzetti had already collaborated with
D’Annunzio in the incidental music for D’Annunzio’s La
Nave. Concerto de l’estate (“Summer Concerto”)
is a concerto for orchestra, a genre that attracted attention
from several Italian composers, such as Virigilio Mortari
(incidentally a pupil of Pizzetti) and – more importantly – Goffredo
Petrassi. As might be expected, this is sunny, optimistic
music of great charm. It has much in common with Respighi’s
colourful scores. Pizzetti knows how to write for orchestra
without bluntly imitating his model. No groundbreaking masterpiece,
but an immensely enjoyable work that certainly deserves to
be heard from time to time. Gardelli obviously loves the
music and conducts excellent performances. The 1966 recording
does not show its age and still sounds remarkably well.
own Trittico Botticelliano needs little comment;
it is one of his best-known scores, and one of his finest
orchestral compositions. The composer managed to draw an
extraordinarily rich and varied palette from deliberately
small forces. Respighi’s orchestral music can be “showy” and
a bit vulgar as in Feste Romane or in Belkis,
Regina di Saba. He often veers into a style that
might have been designed for some Hollywood spectacular.
Nothing of that sort in the delicately and often quite subtly
scored Trittico, which comes off wonderfully
in Heltay’s magnificent reading, possibly one of the finest
I much admire Rota’s film music, I have never been a real
fan of his concert output. I was thus really delighted to
hear his Concerto per archi composed for I
Musici. It is a marvellous work in four concise movements,
in an idiom that often nods towards Bartók and Shostakovich
- try the second and fourth movements. There’s virile, energetic
string writing in a harmonically stringent idiom that makes
its point without any fuss but with a remarkable efficiency.
A splendid work then that should be heard and recorded more
often. Needless to say: I Musici’s reading is impeccable.
if some of these works now exist in modern recordings, these
readings deserved to be re-issued; and it is good to have
them back again. This disc is well worth having especially
for the Respighi and the Rota.