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Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Concerto dell’estate (1928) [30:02]
L’edipo Re di Sofocle – Three Symphonic Preludes (1904-1924) [17:43]
Preludio: Clitennestra: Tragedia in un preludio e due atti (1962/1964) [5:12]
La Festa delle Panatenee: Tre pezzi per orchestra (1936) [16:18]
Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra/Myron Michailidis
rec. 14-19 January 2008 (Concerto dell’estate; L’edipo Re di Sofocle); 8-13 October 2008 (Preludio: Clitennestra; La Festa delle Panatenee), Aristotle University Hall, Thessaloniki, Greece. DDD
NAXOS 8.572013 [69:15]
Experience Classicsonline

This disk complements the recent Helios re–issue of Pizzetti’s orchestral music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä. There is only one duplication and both disks contain very well thought out performances of very exciting, satisfying, and mystifyingly neglected, music.

The Concerto dell’estate (Summer Concerto) is a bright and sunny work – a kind of Concerto for orchestra – full of vivid colours, virtuoso instrumentation and packed with good tunes. But this is a very languid summer experience. The tempo of the music is never really very fast – I suppose that it must be too hot for rushing round. The slow movement seems to have more than a tinge of Beethoven about it(!) and the finale contains moments of darkness in the midst of the jollity. Certainly this is most unexpected. It is a beautiful piece, expertly crafted, with clear, clean textures and none of the orchestral excess which can make Respighi sometimes tiresome. Compared to Lamberto Gardelli’s recording of the piece, issued in the 1960s (Decca, and coupled with music from La pisanella) this performance is slightly too heavy-handed and doesn’t quite have the easy-going flow about it which a lazy summer picture should convey. But it’s still a fine achievement as a performance.

The Preludes to L’edipo Re di Sofocle is duplicated from the Helios disk. These three Preludes are highly dramatic pieces, full of heavy emotion and spectacular orchestration. Unfortunately, Michailidis fails to get anywhere near the raw passion that Vänskä achieves. This is too lightweight a reading for this tumultuous music. In both the Concerto dell’estate and L’edipo Re di Sofocle the recording is somewhat confined and not up to the usual bright and crisp Naxos sound style.

Then something quite unexpected happens. The first note of Preludio: Clitennestra (Pizzetti’s final opera) shows a different, bright and clear recording, and this continues until the end of the disk. These last two pieces were recorded at a later date than the other works and although the same venue, performers, engineer and producer are at work this is much better – better sound, better concert hall feel. The Preludio: Clitennestra is a dramatic and nervy affair. Lots of tension and drive. I wonder if the opera lives up to the promise of this overture?

Finally, La Festa delle Panatenee (The Feast of the Panathenaea), is a suite made from incidental music to a theatrical production. These are much lighter than the rest of the programme, and, oddly, there’s more than a whiff of both Carl Nielsen and Vaughan Williams in folksong mode! It’s a delightful work and makes a suitably entertaining finish to an interesting disk.

Despite my, very slight, complaint about the sound, this is a real must-have. The performances might not be the most inspired and the Thessaloniki State Symphony cannot be regarded as a major orchestra, but ultimately it’s the music which matters and this is a really good introduction to this neglected composer.

Bob Briggs

Bob Briggs' review of a Naxos collection of Pizzetti orchestral works mentions Lamberto Gardelli's recording of the Concerto dell'estate. I thought it worth mentioning that this version was re-released on Australian Eloquence 476 9766 in 2006. The other works are Pizzetti's La Pisanella Suite, Respighi's Botticelli Triptych, and Rota's Concerto for Strings. The CD remains available.

Richard Pennycuick

The review can be found at:



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