Carlo Giorgio GAROFALO (1896 - 1962)
Violin Concerto (1927) [30:19]
Romantic Symphony (1915) [40:08]
Sergei Stadler (violin)
New Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Joel Spiegelman
rec. 21-23 August 1999, Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory of Music. DDD
Re-issue of Marco Polo 8.224183
NAXOS 8.570877 [70:28]
Born in Rome, Garofalo attended the Vatican college where he studied organ and composition. He moved to America in 1910 where he became music director and organist at the Immaculate Conception Church in Boston, Massachusetts, but he didn’t stay there for long. He returned to Italy where, later in life, he taught, one of his pupils being Ennio Morricone. Both Nikisch and Toscanini expressed an interest in Garofalo’s work, but neither performed any. However, after hearing this disk I can understand why; there’s simply no substance to the music.
The Violin Concerto was written after Garofalo heard, and had been impressed with, the very young Yehudi Menuhin. In three movements, the first is a too long, rambling, piece of almost a quarter of an hour, the music constantly reminding me of Karl Goldmark’s marvellous A minor Concerto, but it’s highly unlikely that Garofalo knew that piece. The big problem with this Concerto is that it doesn’t have any real personality and the thematic material is poor and unmemorable.
The Symphony isn’t much better. Starting with an overblown (no pun intended) brass phrase, to which the composer adds an organ at the end, this is a kind of poor man’s version of the I AM motive from Scriabin’s 3rdSymphony. The music then becomes a café waltz , but without the charm. Garofalo tries very hard to add some stress to the music but just when you think it’s going to become dramatic the insipid waltz returns, and goes on and on, never quite reaching whatever deep feelings the composer has in mind for his allegro. The slow movement starts well but descends into over-scored mush. Then a plangent oboe tries to create some peace but a congested woodwind passage enters the scene and a poor climax is built. The scherzo tried hard to be Mendelssohnian but has far too heavy a touch. It’s so laboured. The finale strives to create a “big finish” but the piling on of orchestral forces simply isn’t enough. As sequence follows sequence, one feels that this is Max Reger gone dreadfully wrong.
I don’t care about this music. I cannot engage with it. I cannot find any redeeming features which would make me ever want to hear this music again. The melodic material is very poor, and totally unmemorable, the orchestration verges on the banal and amateurish and the overall feeling of the music is of a person who is interested in composition and has a very slight talent. Naxos is to be thanked for so many of its recordings and reissues but it has done too much and not everything is of worth. This is one of their failures. One to be missed at all costs.
Bob Briggs  
To be missed at all costs.  

see also reviews by Rob Barnett and Nick Barnard