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Nino ROTA (1911–1979)
Complete Music for Viola/Piano and Violin/Piano
Intermezzo for viola and piano (1945) [8:57]
Viola Sonata in C (1945) [16:39]
Viola Sonata in G (1934–1935 rev 1970) [13:26]
Violin Sonata in G (1936-1937) [15:41]
Improwiso, Un Diavolo Sentimentale (A Sentimental
Devil) (1969) [5:51]
Improwiso, Amanti senza Amore (Lovers Without
Love/Prelude to Madness) (1947) [4:10]
(violin and viola), Gabriele Baldocci (piano)
rec. April 2006, Lonigo, Vicenza, Italy. DDD
best known for his music for film, Nino Rota gave as much
time to the concert hall as he did to the cinema. This side
of his work is still less well known to the general listening
public. Recently, both Chandos and BIS have given us valuable
issues of Rota’s concert music including some of the pieces
recorded on this disk. This is however the first recording
of Rota’s complete music for violin and viola, with piano – and
this is also Arts Music’s second issue of Rota’s music (see
review of orchestral works).
one exception, all these works come from the earliest part
of Rota’s career, and their range is quite remarkable. The
opening Intermezzo, for instance, starts as a noble,
elegiac, song then suddenly becomes fast and passionate before
returning to the music of the opening which is all the richer
for its experience. What a superb work it is. A real winner
and a most valuable addition to the, still too slender, viola
three Sonatas each follow the usual format – fastish
outer movements surrounding a slow movement, usually of a
passionate nature. None of them outstays its welcome; in
fact all of them leave me wanting more. There is a stateliness
and nobility about the Sonatas; they are assured pieces
of work, confident in their language and very rewarding to
listen to. The C major Viola Sonata is quiet and intimate
whilst the G major Sonata is more extrovert. On a
couple of occasions I was momentarily reminded of Elgar!
- then the moment has passed. There is a feel of the countryside
in the music of the kind we find in much English music of
this period. The Violin Sonata also has this pastoral
feeling – the piano writing in the first movement reminding
me of some of Ivor Gurney’s fascinating accompaniments to
his songs. But please do not expect English pastoral music.
These works are all very much Rota’s own. I merely make the
comparisons to give some idea of what to expect.
final two, film-derived, pieces are totally different. The Improwiso,
Un Diavolo Sentimentale is a racy little affair, a breathless
scamper, whilst Improwiso, Amanti senza Amore (Lovers
Without Love/Prelude to Madness) is, in part, a marvellous
over-the-top piece of ersatz gypsy indulgence, with a fast,
the works display Rota’s fastidious craftsmanship, being
gratefully laid out for the instruments. They receive very
fine performances. These are extremely attractive works which,
although they don’t plumb great depths of emotion, have more
than sufficient heart-felt music within their small scale.
notes, whilst not extensive – six pages accommodate English,
French and Italian text and photographs of the performers
and composer – are helpful and the sound is crisp and clear.
However, has anyone any idea what the picture on the front
of the booklet is supposed to be? Never mind. It goes without
saying that this is a must for all lovers of Nino Rota’s
music. In addition it will appeal strongly to anyone interested
in well crafted, tuneful music; we badly need this kind of
music these days.
you Arts Music for giving us our second helping of Rota and,
at the risk of sounding greedy, please, I want some more.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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