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Nino ROTA (1911-1979) The Two Piano Concertos   Giorgia Tomassi (piano) with the Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti   EMI  CDC 5 56869 2 [58:24]

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This album follows Muti's very impressive 1997 recording of Nino Rota's film music with the same orchestra on the Sony label. It eclipses in every way its rival 1998 Palumbo/Boni Chandos recording.

The Piano Concerto in C (1959-60) was dedicated to Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and is a glittering kaleidoscopic showpiece that reminds one of Rota's music for Fellini's films. There is a certain Poulenc-like insouciance as well as the Stravinsky wit of Pulcinella and Petrushka. In fact I was haunted by saucy, cheeky, frentic images of the commedia dell'arte while listening to this music. This element of farce carries over into the central Arietta con variazioni (Andantino cantabile) that begins with the cor anglais, oboe and clarinet taking turns to swank across the sound stage before the piano enters to add its own disadainful note. Rachmaninov-like flourishes and scurryings push the music on its way and attempts at tenderness and romance are smartly ridiculed. The final Allegro introduces a more serious and powerful note amongst all the carnival's frenetic shouting; and its picaresque cadenza, is played with clean precision and dexterity and a wit mixed with beguiling limpid beauty by Tomassi.

The Piano Concerto in E "Piccolo mondo antico" was composed in 1978 and was the Milan-based composer's last work. It concedes nothing to the ghastly avante garde fashions of the day that so repulsed the ordinary music lover. Rather it looks back to the

Late Romantics with the imposing 14-minute opening movement very much in the style of Rachmaninov with all his passion and melodic melancholy. (There is a pinch of Mendelsohn evident too.) In parts I was reminded of Rota's music for the film, The Glass Mountain. The writing for the piano is (as in the C major concerto) refined and charming. The cadenza here too is striking, as affecting as it is virtuosic. Beginning rather mournfully in something of the sound world of Schumann , the Andante develops a passion and intensity that reminded me of Rota's music for Il Gattopardo. The final Allegro is vivacious and energetic with a fine red-blooded peroration at its climax.

An excellent recording with documentation that includes an interesting transcript of an interview with Muti about the works. This is let down by an example of how not to write a programme note from Andria Zaccaria, it's pompous and full of self-importance and no substance and more importantly, has very little about the actual works.


Ian Lace



Ian Lace

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