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Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880–1968)
La Pisanella – Suite (1913) [14:01]
Concerto de l’estate (1928) [28:56]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879–1936)
Trittico Botticelliano (1927) [19:20]
Nino ROTA (1911–1979)
Concerto per archi (1965) [15:24]
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Lamberto Gardelli (Pizzetti)
Argo Chamber Orchestra/Laszlo Heltay (Respighi)
I Musici (Rota)
rec. Victoria Hall, Geneva, May 1966 (Pizzetti); Kingsway Hall, London, April 1978 (Respighi); Switzerland, July 1985 (Rota)
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 9766 [77:58]
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Pizzetti’s 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.
Respighi’s 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 ever.
Although 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.
Even 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.
Hubert Culot



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