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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Trittico Botticelliano (1927) [19:43]
Three Chorales of J.S. Bach (1931) [12:38]
The Pines of Rome (1924) [23:37]
Beethoven Orchester Bonn/Stefan Blunier
rec. live, 12-14 March and 10-11 June 2010, Bonn

Experience Classicsonline

Respighi is famous both as a composer and as an arranger. On this disc he appears in both capacities. There are two of his best-known orchestral works and his orchestration of three chorales from the cantatas of Bach. He was very fond of Bach though this is not always evident in his own creations.
The Trittico Botticelliano consists of three movements inspired by three of the painter’s most famous paintings, all of which are in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Unlike Respighi’s Roman cycle or Church Windows, this work is scored for a small orchestra of strings and a few winds, plus percussion, celesta and piano. In Spring (La Primavera), the Bonn strings play extremely well, although the same cannot be said of the winds. Blunier’s conducting is especially genial, but he sometimes tends to plod rather than imparting any excitement. This criticism can also be made of his work in the other two movements, although he gets some wonderful colors from the orchestra in The Birth of Venus.
In 1931 Respighi orchestrated thee chorales taken from Bach cantatas. These demonstrate a lighter touch than one might expect from the composer. “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” is not especially notable in his version, but the other two chorales are quite impressively done. Blunier here is less stolid and does a fine job with “Wachet auf...”.
The Pines of Rome is such an old warhorse as to be almost impossible to defeat and Blunier does creditably here. The first section is played with vigor and the children’s games are especially well brought out. The strings again play magnificently. The catacombs section with its alternation of chant and other material goes well, though it is sluggish at first. In the Janiculum section the woodwinds excel and the orchestra as a whole achieves a wonderfully dreamy effect-this is probably Blunier’s best work on the disc. The Appian Way section is appropriately exciting and the coda does not disappoint. Special credit should be given to the timpanist.
The Beethoven Orchester Bonn has a century-old reputation that is well-deserved and they mostly acquit themselves well, especially, as already mentioned, the strings. As I have indicated above, Stefan Blunier’s leadership on this disc is highly variable, though I know he has done better elsewhere. Though there is no mention of venue, I assume that because this is a live recording that it was recorded in the Beethovenhalle in Bonn; the sound is good, if not exceptional.  

William Kreindler 
























































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