This is the real thing! True symphonic
music, full of tunes, high drama,
arresting ideas, tender slow movements,
fun finales. Rendine is an Italian
composer who wrote both his symphonies,
one immediately after the other, at
the instigation of Marzio Conti. And
we must thank him for that.
Symphony begins with a call
to arms, direct and incisive. This
man obviously means business. The
first movement is full of drama,
the composer never lets go of the
reins and keeps an high degree of
tension during the headlong forward
momentum. The slow movement begins
in a somewhat distant manner but
soon Rendine has built a warm atmosphere
and the tunes just keep coming.
After this the finale will come
as a shock – it’s true fiesta music.
Drums, whirling woodwind, strings
unpinning it all, then we’re off.
It’s great fun. Like the first movement
the music never lets up in its forward
momentum, the difference is that
there’s no problems here, no drama,
just total enjoyment. So exuberant
is this music that I was reminded
of the words of an old song:
an invitation across the nation
A chance for folks to meet
There'll be laughing, singing, music
So come on ev'ry
guy grab a girl
Ev'rywhere around the world
They're dancing in the street…"
and Rendine has
us all doing just that.
I want to rush
into my kitchen and make spaghetti
bolognese so as to keep the warm
Italian feeling going. The music
is welcomingly tonal, brilliantly
orchestrated, easily assimilated
and wildly enjoyable. I should point
out that although the composer has
stated that this finale is based
on a theme from an old Neapolitan
tarantella funebre, this
is no macabre dance.
Symphony is an homage to Andorra.
It begins with some very impressionistic
sounds. The woodwind swirl, the
brass call, the strings arpeggiate.
It’s all very mysterious. Then the
oboe gives a long tune, the strings,
in fine harmony, take up the strand.
When the allegro breaks in it’s
with an angular theme for the horns,
and what a theme it is. Strings
and trombones argue, then there’s
relief, an easier–going idea, but
obviously a continuation of the
earlier idea, coloured with brass
and glockenspiel. It’s wonderful
stuff. A slight reminiscence of
the fiesta and we’re back to a repeat
of the opening idea. It reminds
me of a restrained version of the
first movement of Laszlo Lajtha’s
truly astonishing 9th
Symphony. There’s drama aplenty
but this time it’s tempered with
moments of repose and dance. Again,
this is superb stuff.
The slow movement
is elegiac, stately in gait, very
serious, with some lovely writing
for strings and woodwind. The finale
is another dance movement but subdued,
without the wild fantasticism of
the finale of No.1.
These two works
are real Symphonies insofar as they
follow true symphonic lines. And
they are both very enjoyable. I
take exception to the notes in the
booklet – below Naxos’s usual standard
– for the ludicrous statement, claiming
that "few composers…of the
recent past, have feared to measure
themselves against the symphony…"
the writer completely fails to notice
the English symphonic achievement
(the unnamed writer is referring
to conventional symphonies in a
tonal idiom, claiming that Henze
doesn’t count because his works
"are part of a repertoire to
which little or nothing remains
of the formal genre…") of everyone
from VW, to Rubbra and Malcolm Arnold.
Another odd thing about the booklet
is that it although it contains
photos and biographies of the band
the conductor and the leader it
contains no information about the
This is a disk
of music to enjoy and revel in the
great tunes, the gloriously colorful
orchestrations and vital performances,
in excellent sound. Rendine may
not be the great Symphonic composer
the notes claim him to be but he
can write and write appealing music.
At the price you can’t lose.