Respighi: Gli uccelli; Il tramonto; Trittico

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WORKS: Gli uccelli; Il tramonto; Trittico
PERFORMER: Ewa Podle´s (contralto); Wroclaw CO‘Leopoldinum’/Michal Nesterowicz
Ottorino Respighi is best known


for his three glamorous symphonic

poems evoking historical and/or

picturesque aspects of the city

of Rome, though there’s more to

him than that. These slightly less

familiar works are given worthwhile

performances here, though the

swimmy acoustic doesn’t help

Eva Podle´s articulate the text of

Il tramonto with any clarity. (The

original poem, Shelley’s The Sunset,

is sung in an Italian translation.)

The sound she makes is sometimes

gorgeous, but it also registers as

thick, and the dearth of consonants

robs her vocalism of focus and

meaning. Janet Baker’s classic

version with Richard Hickox is

currently unavailable, but Linda

Finnie’s performance under Raphael

Wallfisch is a good substitute. The

piece itself is strongly atmospheric in its evocation of dusk, death and

emotional loss, with Respighi’s

skills in instrumental colouring are

demonstrated in some particularly

vivid and individual touches.

Elsewhere the arrangements

of a varied selection of short

Baroque pieces in the suite The

Birds still sound attractive, even if

the period-instrument revival has

made Respighi’s more lavish early

20th-century pastiche treatment

sound somewhat quaint. Here the

technically accomplished playing of

the Polish band under the energising

baton of Micha? Nesterowicz is

highly presentable, as it is also in the

fresh and multi-coloured Botticelli

Triptych, which shows Respighi’s

orchestral imagination operating on


an appreciable level. George Hall