Conservative in his musical style as in his politics – rightly or wrongly the whiff of Fascism hangs over his name – Ottorino Respighi is remembered today almost exclusively for the blazing triptych of Roman tone poems. He also, however, produced a corpus of chamber, keyboard and vocal works, not to mention operas and orchestral pieces, many of which are crying out to be rediscovered. Slowly they are finding their way into concert programmes and on to record, and this disc from the Ambache should bring three of them a well-deserved wider currency.
The superb Piano Quintet in F minor occasionally recalls Franck (who wrote one in the same key), but its piano-dominated lyrical effusion is wholly individual. The substantial ten-minute first movement is inadequately balanced by a two-minute Andantino and four-minute scherzo-like Vivacissimo, however, and it is possible that a finale has somehow become detached.
The D minor String Quartet – one of several, both numbered and unnumbered – is similarly lyrical and flowing rather than structurally rigorous, though a vein of melancholy is nicely caught by the Ambache in this premiere recording. The Six Pieces for violin and piano include works that exist also in orchestral form but are none the less attractive for that. Barry Millington