I was quite shocked, as I listened, to discover that the first
movement of Martucci’s Concerto played for over 20 minutes.
Shocked because there simply isn’t sufficient material
to justify such a length, and thus it isn’t strong enough
to engage the attention. Also, it was boring. This music is
trying so hard to be the big romantic Concerto, with big tunes
and bold, Lisztian, virtuoso writing for the keyboard but,
I’m afraid, it falls flat on its face due to the paucity
of the material. The orchestration isn’t up to much either,
it’s pretty flat and uninspiring. There’s also
a lack of fire to the piece and no real conflict between piano
and orchestra. I cannot imagine why Naxos should have chosen
to record this music - and three other CDs of Martucci’s
music, including Symphonies (see review) and the 1st Piano
I am sure that Martucci has his fans - there are composers
whose music many find unpalatable who I enthuse about - and
if so, this is wonderful, but don’t you want something
with some thrust? Some forward momentum? A personality, and
that’s the bottom line - this music has no personality.
I don’t care if music isn’t “original” if
it registers in the heart and the head. That’s the point,
music is an emotional art - the most emotional art-form there
is. When music speaks directly to the emotions we feel weak
in the knees, want to curl up and enjoy, and, indeed, sometimes
wallow in the glorious sounds we are given. Who but the hardest
of hearts does not respond to Rachmaninov in his most romantic
of moods in his Second Symphony, or Frank Bridge when elated
in Enter Spring?
The small fillers are all arrangements of piano pieces, salon
works of weak character.
Richard Whitehouse’s note is to be marvelled at, if you
feel as I do about this music, but what it fails to do is rouse
any enthusiasm in me, and thus make me want to hear the music.
Naxos has done great service to so many composers who deserve
a hearing, especially the British ones, but, for me, this is
one of their few failures. The recording is very good, and,
I am sure, the performances are the best there could be but
it’s hard to tell when there’s nothing in the music
that one could care about. In the long run I simply do not
care about this music, because it seems as if the composer
doesn’t either! Neither of us are engaged in the process.