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)
Roman Festivals (1928)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Don Juan (1888)
Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994)

Concerto for Orchestra (1954)
Oregon Symphony Orchestra/James DePreist
Rec 28-29 May 1987, Arlene Schnitzer Auditorium, Portland, Oregon
DELOS DE 3070 [70.24]
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Respighi's reputation rests most securely on his triptych of symphonic poems inspired by images of Rome: Fountains, Pines and Festivals. It was his intention to create music containing many distinctive technical and expressive characteristics, and he certainly succeeded, since these three works ranks 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, since his music is so harmonically alluring, colourful and sophisticated. 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.

Compared to Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, 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 (TRACK 1: 0.00). In any case, there is nothing wrong with vulgarity in music; not everything has to sound like Palestrina.

Just occasionally in Strauss's Don Juan the phrasing seems a touch under-characterised, as in the beautiful love music, but there is a commanding sense of line and contour, and the famous oboe solo is delightfully played. The great statements of the heroic horn theme make their mark (TRACK 2: 9.41), and this performance will certainly give pleasure.

An enterprising collection of masterpieces concludes with Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra. Although this piece enjoys nothing like the popularity of Strauss's Don Juan, its imaginative sweep and fabulous technique mean that it does not suffer from comparison. One reason for its success is that it has such an effective opening phase (TRACK 3: 0.00), though that is not to suggest that the later parts show any decline. There are grounds for suggesting that this is the composer's single most colourful score, a significant priority for an avowed orchestral showpiece, of course.

DePreist has the music's measure, and his orchestra shows itself to have a pedigree of truly international calibre. These things set a standard which is maintained throughout the programme.

Terry Barfoot


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Roman Festivals

R. Strauss:
Don Juan

Concerto for Orchestra


Capriccio notturno e Arioso

Passacaglia, Toccata e Corale


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