Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
The Fountains of Rome
The Pines of Rome
Roman Festivals

Oregon Symphony Orchestra/James DePreist
Rec 9-10 January 2001 (Fountains, Pines), 28-29 May 1987 (Festivals), Arlene Schnitzer Auditorium, Portland, Oregon
DELOS DE 3287 [65.50]

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS  
Amazon recommendations

Born in Bologna, Respighi travelled widely before eventually settling in Rome. His musical style is immediately attractive to the ear, and relates strongly to the evocative colours of Strauss, Ravel, Puccini and Debussy, as well, of course, to the influence of his illustrious teachers, Martucci and Rimsky-Korsakov. Stylistically Respighi was undoubtedly a conservative. He was always attracted by the music of the past, including the ancient modes and chants, while the sound-world of his music is harmonically alluring, colourful and sophisticated.

Respighi's reputation rests most securely on his triptych of symphonic poems inspired by images of Rome: Fountains, Pines and Festivals. It was Respighi's intention to create music containing many distinctive technical and expressive characteristics, and he certainly succeeded, since these three works rank high among the great showpieces of the orchestral repertory.

The Fountains of Rome is the quietest and most subtle of the three, with a musical style which if anything relies upon refinement and under-statement. In that sense it is the most elusive, and makes particular demands upon the players. James DePreist has been principal conductor of the Oregon Symphony for more than twenty years - since 1980 to be precise - and their rapport shows. What immediately impresses is the quality of the sound, both of the recording itself and of the playing. And since these are the prerequisites for a recording of this music, the standard set initially is encouraging and satisfying.

The Pines of Rome has a wider expressive and musical range, set across four movements which each have their own priorities. The two extremes of the music are Pines near a Catacomb and the Pines of the Appian Way, the one full of eerie, restrained atmosphere, the other building to a climax of overwhelming presence and splendour. DePreist and his orchestra do not disappoint on either occasion, indeed they and the Delos engineers are wholly successful in capturing Respighi's imaginative imagery.

The third of the Roman trilogy, Feste Romane (Roman Festivals), has enjoyed less critical acclaim. But in the hands of a virtuoso conductor and orchestra its undoubted vulgarities can be triumphantly indulged. In any case, there is nothing wrong with vulgarity in music; not everything has to sound like Palestrina.

The performance of Feste Romane was actually made in 1987, some time before the remainder of the disc, and there is no question that the attentive listener will notice that the sound is less vivid, although still thoroughly acceptable. Again DePreist has the music's measure, and his orchestra shows itself to have a pedigree of truly international calibre.

Terry Barfoot

See also reviews by John Quinn and Christopher Thomas

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.