Verdi, Martucci & Schubert
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: Verdi: La forza del destino Overture; Martucci: La canzone dei ricordi; Schubert: Symphony in C, D 944 (Great)
PERFORMER: Violet Urmana (soprano); Berlin PO/Riccardo Muti (Naples, 2009)
CATALOGUE NO: 2057728 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
The chief musical interest of this DVD is Martucci’s La canzone dei ricordi, with Violeta Urmana as the excellent soloist. Martucci is hardly a household name, though Naxos is doing its best for him, so it would have been helpful for Medici Arts to tell us a bit more about this work, whose title they don’t even translate – though the texts appear as subtitles.
Written in the last years of the 19th century, the Canzone are a collection of seven songs lasting slightly over half an hour, in an idiom so fruity and languorous as to be debilitating: Martucci was evidently eager to show that he could be as decadent as any turn-of-the-century central European. If you enjoy Richard Strauss’s songs, you’ll love these.
The other two items are despatched with characteristic Mutian vigour and precision, but are depressingly void of life and of delight. This was the first time that Muti and the Berlin Philharmonic had played together for many years, but it sounds as if they are no love-match.
The Overture to La forza del destino is, as it can’t help being, urgent and tuneful, but Muti used to conduct it with far more genuine excitement than this. I hardly know how to characterise the Schubert Great C major Symphony, which is of course immaculately played but dead from the first note, and showing a flicker of life only towards the very end. You may find, as I did, that Muti’s coiffure is more engaging than the music. Berlusconi leads the applause without enthusiasm. Michael Tanner