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Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Arrangements for brass instruments by Peter LAWRENCE (b.1965)

Fountains of Rome (1916) [15:19]
Pines of Rome (1924) [20:02]
Roman Festivals. (1929) [21:19]
Junge Deutsche Blechbläsersolisten/Walter Hilgers
rec. Stadhalle, Marbach, February 2002
GENUIN GMP 020107-1 [58:55]

An oddity: here are Respighi’s celebrated three Roman tone poems in arrangements by Peter Lawrence, an Englishman, born in Barrow-in-Furness. The scoring is for brass wind instruments and the performers are a German youth band. The recording is all the more enterprising because of its interesting booklet that includes many pictures of the actual fountains and pines around Rome to illustrate each movement, the notes for which are printed in German and English.

I will confess that I approached my review with some trepidation wondering how Respighi’s wonderful colours and effects could possibly be transmuted effectively. But Lawrence’s transcriptions are most sympathetic using the brass band’s colourations and timbres to best effect; within these limitations they are most impressive. Some transcriptions like the ‘Triton Fountain’ are a little wayward but not contrary to the spirit of the originals and not without interest. Not surprisingly, the quieter more evocative and sensitively shaded movements like ‘Villa Medici Fountain at sunset’ and the ‘Janiculum’ Pines lose the most, although that nightingale is not forsaken and some interesting tongue-fluttering accompanies its song. The misty early morning evocation of the Valle Giulia is nicely caught too. The ‘Appian Way Pines’ march, is as might be expected, a very successful blistering crescendo with nice perspectives and enthusiastically rasping brass.

The fifteen young Germans (fourteen boys and one girl) perform with great skill and enthusiasm; their playing exciting, sensitively phrased and adroitly accented.

For Respighi admirers (and others) a reserved recommendation to be filed under ‘Respighi curios’. In case this caveat might deter I will assure, in conclusion, that these are sympathetic transcriptions performed with style and enthusiasm.

Ian Lace

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