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Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Rondò veneziano (1929) [23:32]
Preludio a un altro giorno (1952) [11:34]
Tre Preludii Sinfonici per L'Edipo Re di Sofocle (1924) [17:47]
La Pisanella – Suite (Sire Huguet; Le quai du Port de Famagoustentry; Au Château de la Reine sans merci; La danse de Pauvreté et de parfait Amour; La danse de l'Amour et de la Mort parfumée) (1913) [22:34]
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
rec. Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, 10-11 December 1998
Originally issued as CDA67084
Experience Classicsonline

Len Mullenger's MusicWeb International has been around since the 1990s. The classical CD review pages became fully active in 1998. Discs predating that launch have passed us by so it is good to catch up with them through an increasingly active reissue market. This is one such.
I knew of Pizzetti because of his operatic setting of Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral - not that I have heard a note of it. Hyperion have opened a window onto his neglected orchestral music. It's lush and grand late-romantic stuff.
The Rondo Veneziano is a bold and fantastic symphonic poem with rapturous orchestral writing contrasted with the surreal tinkling harpsichord and the solo violin. The brass writing is imperious - striking a convincing yet hybrid accommodation between Bax and Respighi. At the close this Venetian impression sinks into the warm silence of the Mediterranean night.
Preludio a un altro giorno is the latest work here. It dates from 22 years after the Rondo. A stern work, it is in a fully resolved romantic style with some determinedly recurrent hammering brass climaxes. This is the sort of plenteously stocked orchestral writing that we know from Respighi's Vetrate di Chiesa. The piece ends in gaunt tragedy of the sort felt in the gruff pages of Finlandia.
The three symphonic preludes from L'Edipo Re di Sofocle range from sombre brooding atmospheric to tragedy marbled with melancholy and reflective-epic. You might perhaps see these as akin to the Music for a Scene from Shelley or the Essays by Samuel Barber.
The concert suite Pisanella is in five movements drawn from the incidental music Pizzetti wrote in 1913 for a production of Gabriele d'Annunzio's La Pisanella. The suite was premiered at the Augusteo in Rome in 1917. The whole thing plays for just short of 23 minutes. After a delicate Ravelian Sire Huguet which nonetheless rises to a dazzling Daphnis-style ripely fanfared climax we get a Le quai movement that has a Rimskian brightness with more fruitily blurted exuberance. Au chateau de la reine sans merci falls into two sections - one darker and murmuring to reflect the merciless queen. The second catches the glow of the play's rose garden. It's quite Baxian in that composer’s early and densely verdant style familiar from Nympholept and Spring Fire. La danse de pauvreté et de parfait amour moves from a dewy melancholy touched in by solo string instruments and gradually transforms into something grandly affirmative. There’s tons of weight behind the great leaping string writing. La danse de l'amour et de la mort parfumée includes a half glum and half carefree series of solos. These are at first by clarinet and finally other parts of the orchestra are swept up into the excitement.
The more I listen to this music the more I hear it as an extension of works such as Rimsky's Antar, Biarent’s Chants de l’Orient and Schmitt's Antoine et Cléopatre. It has a certain lush Hollywood feel to it and is not for ascetic souls.
You can hear an alternative version of La Pisanella and also the Concerto del Estate on Decca Eloquence.
This music could hardly have more committed and adept advocacy than it receives from Vänskä and the BBC Scottish. Wonderful to have this now at Helios price. The disc could hardly have been packed out more generously.
Rob Barnett


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