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Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856 - 1909)
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat minor, op.66 (1885) [41:40]
Momento musicale (1884) e Menuetto (1880) [8:33]
Novelletta, op.82/2 (1905) [6:08]
Serenata, op.57/2 (1886) [5:03]
Colore orientale, op.44/3 (1880) [8:01]
Gesualdo Coggi (piano)
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma/Francesco La Vecchia
rec. 23-26 November 2007; 18-19 May 2008, Auditorium Conciliazione-Orchestra Sinfonica diu Roma Studios
NAXOS 8.570932 [68:56]
Experience Classicsonline

I was quite shocked, as I listened, to discover that the first movement of Martucci’s Concerto played for over 20 minutes. Shocked because there simply isn’t sufficient material to justify such a length, and thus it isn’t strong enough to engage the attention. Also, it was boring. This music is trying so hard to be the big romantic Concerto, with big tunes and bold, Lisztian, virtuoso writing for the keyboard but, I’m afraid, it falls flat on its face due to the paucity of the material. The orchestration isn’t up to much either, it’s pretty flat and uninspiring. There’s also a lack of fire to the piece and no real conflict between piano and orchestra. I cannot imagine why Naxos should have chosen to record this music - and three other CDs of Martucci’s music, including Symphonies (see review) and the 1st Piano Concerto.

I am sure that Martucci has his fans - there are composers whose music many find unpalatable who I enthuse about - and if so, this is wonderful, but don’t you want something with some thrust? Some forward momentum? A personality, and that’s the bottom line - this music has no personality. I don’t care if music isn’t “original” if it registers in the heart and the head. That’s the point, music is an emotional art - the most emotional art-form there is. When music speaks directly to the emotions we feel weak in the knees, want to curl up and enjoy, and, indeed, sometimes wallow in the glorious sounds we are given. Who but the hardest of hearts does not respond to Rachmaninov in his most romantic of moods in his Second Symphony, or Frank Bridge when elated in Enter Spring?

The small fillers are all arrangements of piano pieces, salon works of weak character.

Richard Whitehouse’s note is to be marvelled at, if you feel as I do about this music, but what it fails to do is rouse any enthusiasm in me, and thus make me want to hear the music.

Naxos has done great service to so many composers who deserve a hearing, especially the British ones, but, for me, this is one of their few failures. The recording is very good, and, I am sure, the performances are the best there could be but it’s hard to tell when there’s nothing in the music that one could care about. In the long run I simply do not care about this music, because it seems as if the composer doesn’t either! Neither of us are engaged in the process.

Bob Briggs  
























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