> ROTA Harp, bassoon, Trombone concertos CHAN9954 [AT]: Classical CD Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Nino ROTA (1911 - 1979)
Concerto for Harp [20.52]
Concerto for Bassoon [17.03]
Castel del Monte [10.07]
Concerto for Trombone [13.28]
Luisa Prandina, harp
Paolo Carlini, bassoon,
Guido Corti, horn
Andrea Conti, trombon
I Virtuosi Italiani/Marzio Conti
Rec. Auditorium Panduera, Cento, Italy, November 2000
CHANDOS CHAN 9954 [61.52]


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Nino Rota was the John Williams of his day, an extremely talented film composer whose cinema work seemed to disqualify him in the eyes of some from being a "proper" composer. He wrote in a pleasant, lightweight idiom that has the same feel as the work of his contemporary Jean Françaix. The sense of motion that served his cinema work so well (predominantly for Fellini) carries into his other repertoire. For what itís worth, it makes me think of a man on a bicycle. This beautifully recorded and produced disc is most welcome, especially as three of these works have never before been committed to disc.

The first is the least exciting. An instrument as inherently quiet as the harp is very hard to bring into opposition with an orchestra, and Rota never finds a convincing solution in this concerto. It is a very pretty work, but not really memorable.

Chandos deserve a medal for services to the bassoon repertoire. Their releases are always excellent, especially the marvellous recordings of Popov playing the music of Gubaidulina. They have furthered their reputation with this recording of Rotaís concerto. It is not a concerto that escapes the stereotypical bassoon-as-cheerful-chappy idiom, but it is at least an affectionate stereotype. Hardly profound, it is not well known even amongst bassoonists, although I am sure many would enjoy its good humour, especially as the technical demands are short of virtuosic. Paolo Carlini, a player with the plummy tone characteristic of his teacher Klauss Thünemann, captures the spirit of the piece excellently, from the bucolic bumbling of the toccata and introspection of the recitative. He then captures each of the finale variations (including a Sicilienne that sounds suspiciously similar to Faureís in Pelléas et Mélisande) beautifully. A first rate performance.

Castel del Monte is a fine ballad for horn and orchestra, reminiscent of the misty orchestral works of Chausson, and deserves to be more widely heard. The members of I Virtuosi Italiani, highly accomplished throughout, sense that this is a more substantial piece and reserve their most finely shaded playing for this performance.

The final work here is the Trombone Concerto, the only work previously recorded previously. Rotaís rumbustuous style serves the trombone well, and Andrea Conti tucks into it with gusto.

The works on this disc are not profound enough to reward repeated listening, but its virtues of simplicity and good nature make a very pleasant treat now and again.

Aidan Twomey


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