If Only They Had Written (More!) for Films
Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936).
Fontane di Roma; Feste Romane; Pini di
Daniele Gatti conducting
the Orchestra Dell'Accademia Nazionale Di Sanat Cecilia
51292 2 [66:00]
La Boutique Fantasque and Rachmaninov-Respighi: Cinq
López-Cobos conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The Birds; Three Botticelli Pictures; Il Tramonto; Adagio con
Linda Finie (mezzo-soprano)
Raphael Wallfisch (cello) and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta conducted by Tamas
Ancient Airs and Dances - Suites 1 - 3
Rico Saccani conducting
the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.
Concerto Gregoriano; Poema Autunnale for violin and
Takako Nishizaki (violin)
Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Choo Hoey
La Fiamma - opera in 3 Acts.
Ilona Tokody; Klára
Takács; Péter Kelen; Sándor Sólyom-Nagy. The
Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus and the Hungarian State Orchestra conducted
by Lamberto Gardelli
12591-93 3 CDs [134:13]
Italian composer Ottorino Respighi died in 1936 just as the original film
score for the new sound films was becoming established. Had he lived another
ten years or so he may well have been persuaded to write for the silver screen.
And how well qualified he would have been! His music is intensely dramatic,
highly evocative and immensely exciting. He is best known for his Roman Trilogy:
The Pines of Rome, The Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals. 'Circennes'
(Roman Festivals) would have been very fitting as source music for
Gladiator or Spartacus. 'The Pines of the Appian Way',
with its evocation of marching Roman Legions would have added great excitement
to any Hollywood epic set in Ancient Rome; and the sound picture of 'The
Pines of the Janiculum' (depicting the scene on a fragrant moonlight night),
would grace a romance such as Roman Holiday.
Respighi's music is often very melodic and accessible. Listen to his arrangements
of Rossini's music that is the ballet music - La Boutique Fantasque, for
instance. He was greatly influenced by music of antiquity. He put a modern
symphonic gloss on ancient forms in works like Concerto Gregoriano for violin
and orchestra (again very pictorial music and ideal for scenes of church
pomp and magnificence) ; and the lovely Ancient Airs and Dances based on
16th and 17th Italian and French pieces.
Respighi wrote as evocatively for small chamber orchestras as he did for
the grander forces of the Roman tone poems. The Birds, based on
17th and 18th century harpsichord and lute music, it
cleverly and wittily depicts the dove, the hen, the nightingale and the cuckoo.
Respighi's works for voices are equally impressive. They include many solo
songs and a number of settings of poems by Shelley including Il Tramonto
(The Sunset). Few realise that Respighi also composed a number of operas.
Certainly the large audience I addressed in Scarborough (a seaside in Yorkshire,
England) on the subject of Respighi had not and when they heard excerpts
form his La Fiamma a colourful and dramatic story of love, jealousy and
witchcraft, they were greatly impressed.
If you are interested in learning more about Respighi there is a sub-site
devoted to his life and works and you can learn how to join the Respighi
Society if you click here.
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