> GAROFALO Violin Concerto 8225183 [RDB]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Carlo Giorgio GAROFALO (1886-1952)
Violin Concerto; Romantic Symphony
Sergei Stadler (violin)
New Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Joel Spiegelman
Recorded 1999 in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory of Music
MARCO POLO 8.225183 [70:01]



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It is difficult not to treat this disc as a curiosity, but it deserves better. Garofalo is now a forgotten name (it does not appear in my recent edition of Grove) and, though he composed a considerable quantity of sacred and secular music and a large scale comic opera, The Juggler (never staged), his works are virtually unknown to present-day audiences. The only performance since 1915 of the Romantic Symphony took place in Moscow under Spiegelman (who rediscovered the full score) in 1994, though conductors of the status of Nikisch, Toscanini and Serafin are said to have been great admirers.

In many respects the fate that overtook these ambitious works was predictable. They appeared in the wake of such great nineteenth century Romantics as Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Bruckner. By the twentieth century Mahler, Elgar, Richard Strauss and other bright stars were high in the firmament, and the musical public was turning away from grandiose symphonic gestures to more exotic novelties. In addition Italian composers of this period are not readily identified with the "Viennese monumental" symphonic traditions in which both these works are clearly planted; for example Respighi a rival of Garofalo wisely found his inspiration in the bright colours and drama of his native country.

There is, of course, no reason why anachronisms like the Violin Concerto and Romantic Symphony should not be listened to for their intrinsic merits; yet, even here, perspectives can appear strangely distorted. The cadenzas of the Concerto, beautifully played by Stadler, spin along in seemingly endless arabesques, more reminiscent of Tartini than the potent drama of a Bruch or an Elgar. The beauty of the themes and they are indeed beautiful easily pall in the conventionally virtuosic elaboration to which they are subjected. The same could be said of the Symphony. While obviously a largely scale work, it can also sound overstuffed.

The playing is sensitive and thrilling excellently disciplined performances by an orchestra only recently (1999) created through the sponsorship of the Modern Times Group of Sweden. The wide experience of Joel Spiegelman promises to bring international playing standards and discipline which, in recent years, are sometimes lacking in the long-established Moscow-based orchestras.

Roy D. Brewer

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