> RESPIGHI The Birds, Chrurch Windows [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Gli Uccelli [18.23]
Vetrate di Chiesa [21.40]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) arr Vincenzo TOMMASINI (1878-1950)

Le Donne di Buone Umore [19.57]
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy (Gli Uccelli; Vetrate)
Cleveland Orchestra/Louis Lane (Tommasini)
rec Town Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 29 Jan 1966 (Gli Uccelli), 17 Feb 1964 (Vetrate di Chiesa); Severance Hall, Cleveland, 3 Apr 1970 (Tommasini), ADD
SONY ESSENTIAL CLASSICS SBK60311 [63.47] Superbudget


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Respighi paints in light, delight, birdsong, Handelian flourishes and Vivaldian zest. The thematic material is looted from Rameau's music for keyboard. The Prelude and La Gallina (Hen) are grand (as is the end of the Cuckoo movement) but Respighi's most gentle vein is released for the La colomba (dove) and L'usignuolo (Nightingale). La Gallina ends with a regal long-lofted trumpet line the playing of which reminds me of another Ormandy Philadelphia triumph: the suite from The Golden Cockerel. Respighi venerated Rimsky. That much is also clear from a much more indulgently saturated canvas. The four Church Windows are arranged and orchestrated from a series of solo piano works based on Gregorian chant (a similar impetus gave rise to his violin concerto - the equable Concerto Gregoriano). The first movement Flight Into Egypt overflows with ideas and influences from Rimsky, to Janáček (Taras Bulba), to Finzi (in anticipation this time). The screeching and dive-bombing rushing of the opening few minutes of St Michael Archangel is suggestive of Vaughan Williams' Fourth Symphony and gives way to one of those themes later appropriated by Hollywood for wide river (Rio Grande or Shenandoah) westerns. The Matins of St Clare are placid and set the scene for St Gregory the Great. For me this has always evoked the groaning putting to sea of a giant quinquireme. The oars touch the water languidly and gradually build momentum as the vessel slips into the main passage and makes for deep water. It is in this movement that the mark left on Howard Hanson by Respighi's teaching can best be felt (3.34 tr. 9). Respighi also squirrelled away Rosenkavalier effects for use here (5.20 tr 9). This suite must surely have played its part in inspiring the film music of Miklós Rózsa in 'Biblical' epics such as Ben Hur. The organ registers with particular force in the St Gregory movement.

The most consciously antiquarian approach is to be found in Tommasini's orchestration of movements from the hundreds of micro-sonatas Domenico Scarlatti wrote for the Queen of Spain. There are three lively movements before we get to an andante of considerable composure and then a gentle Non presto before the Cat's Fugue and Finale. Unusually there is a harpsichord part for this suite. The soloist is not named. Louis Lane and the Clevelanders are as brilliant as the music demands.

Jackson Braider's notes do not give dates for these pieces. There are French and German translations although the French one is incomplete.

Rob Barnett


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