Argento: Casa Guidi, Capriccio for Clarinet and Orchestra, In Praise of Music

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LABELS: Reference Recordings
WORKS: Casa Guidi, Capriccio for Clarinet and Orchestra, In Praise of Music
PERFORMER: Frederica Von Stade, Burt Hara Minnesota OrchestraEiji Oue
Domestic happiness shines through


Dominick Argento’s setting of

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s letters

to her sister, about family life at Casa

Guidi in Florence. Casa Guidi was

written for Frederica von Stade in

1983, when her voice had rather more

bloom than it did when recorded in

2001. But she still inhabits the highly

singable solo part with great authority,

and the sheer likeability that has

always characterised her singing.

Argento’s 1986 Capriccio for

clarinet (the fluent Burt Hara) and

orchestra is subtitled ‘Rossini in

Paris’, not because it’s based on actual

Rossini pieces, but as it was inspired

by the composer’s long and relaxed

retirement. This is essentially light

music blown up to concerto length,

though the quiet ending is effective.

In Praise of Music, written for the

Minnesota Orchestra in 1977, takes

melodies from different parts of the

world and periods of history as the

basis for a sequence of ‘songs for

orchestra’ of Respighi-like brilliance.

The orchestra sounds magnificent

in a broad yet detailed sound-picture,

but with a dynamic range which is

uncomfortably wide for domestic


listening. Anthony Burton