Rota: String Quartet; Sonata for Flute & Harp; Clarinet Trio,

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: String Quartet; Sonata for Flute & Harp; Clarinet Trio,
PERFORMER: Ex Novo Ensemble
Nino Rota is best remembered today as a film composer: he wrote the scores for virtually every important Italian film from the Fifties to the Seventies, not to mention The Godfather. But he was also a prolific composer for the opera house and the concert hall. This disc contains chamber music spanning nearly 40 years, all of it generous in its melodic writing, euphonious in its harmonies, and deftly written for the instruments. The early Quintet for flute, oboe, viola, cello and harp uses its forces with an attractive freshness; the Sonata for flute and harp and the wartime Little Musical Offering for wind quintet are assets to their respective repertoires. But the String Quartet of 1948 seems to turn its back on the whole weighty quartet tradition in its blithe, tuneful innocence. And David Gallagher’s chatty notes can’t convince me that the two later Trios – for flute, violin and piano and for clarinet, cello and piano – are anything but rather blandly anachronistic. The members of the Italian Ex Novo Ensemble, well recorded, are persuasive advocates throughout the disc. As long as you’re expecting no more from it than well crafted entertainment music, with some unusually good tunes, you won’t be disappointed. Anthony Burton