Nino ROTA (1911-1979)
Symphony No. 3 in C major (1956-57) [18:23]
Concerto soirée for piano and orchestra (1961) [19:24]
Divertimento concertante for double bass and orchestra (1968-73) [23:47]
Davide Botto (double-bass); Barry Douglas (piano)
Filarmonica ’900 del Teatro Regio, Turin/Gianandrea Noseda
rec. Sala Regia, Teatro Regio, Turin, 28-30 May 2010
CHANDOS CHAN 10669 [61:50]
Nino Rota’s quirky, eccentric Concerto soirée was written shortly after his film score for La dolce vita. Unsurprisingly the music is reminiscent of Rota’s comedy film scores. In fact the music of the concluding Can-can was used later in the film . Gerald Larner, who contributes the notes to this album succinctly describes it as “a piano concerto written in the spirit of Rossini’s Soirée musicales”. Clearly this is not a Late-Romantic Concerto played in the grand manner but an informal playful work constructed as if it were almost an extemporisation. The opening movement marked, Valser-Fantasia is a waltz with Chopinesque figuration but lampooned by the orchestra. The central Romanza meanders introspectively with some Arabian-style woodwinds before the piano turns skittish; it’s all as if some sad clown is wandering across the musical landscape. A slapstick Quadrille follows and the music here reminds one of the insouciance of Poulenc. The Can-can taken at the gallop concludes this entertaining romp. Rota presents his interpreters challenges of sudden changes of mood, harmonic twists and rhythms all of which are surmounted with enthusiastic dexterity by Barry Douglas and the orchestra.
The quirky mood of the Concerto soirée is sustained, in the main, in Rota’s Divertimento concertante for double-bass and orchestra. Rota makes full expressive use of the instrument’s wide range covering nearly four octaves with harmonics extending its upper range even further. The opening movement is capricious in character now solemn, now asinine. The clowning continues into a comedic march that is the second movement with the soloist pompously trying to impose some sort of dignity on the surrounding chaos. The more serious central Andante has a calming influence with the double-bass in a more lyrical mood; the central section is reminiscent of a Tchaikovsky ballet. The concluding movement is back in sprightly, quirkiness again with a tussle between soloist and taunting woodwind.
Rota’s brief Third Symphony is less serious than its two predecessors. Its lighter character is set in a neo-classical style. The opening Allegro is a brisk ‘open-air’ frolic. Written in the mid-1950s it is again reminiscent of film music although in this first movement one might detect a hint of Hitchcock in sardonic mood as well as broader hints of Italian film humour. The Adagio is altogether more serious and treads a rather darker path in personal introspection - possibly alluding to a personal loss? There is stormy passion and a depth of feeling here we have not encountered so far in this sunlit album. The third movement scherzo is cast in neo-classical style and lilts happily along to a lovely poignant Trio melody. A Vivace con spirito finale rounds off this symphony in comic style once more.
Quirkily entertaining, here is Rota the clown on display with effervescent lampooning music.
Ian Lace
Quirkily entertaining, here is Rota the clown on display with effervescent lampooning music.