Respighi: Burlesca; Preludio, corale e fuga; Rossiniana; Five études-tableaux

COMPOSERS: Respighi
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Respighi
WORKS: Burlesca; Preludio, corale e fuga; Rossiniana; Five études-tableaux
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10388
Much effort has been expended in recent years to reveal Ottorino Respighi as more than purely the composer of The Pines of Rome and an accomplished arranger of other people’s music. This is the second instalment in Gianandrea Noseda’s contribution, following his recording of La boutique fantasque with the BBC Philharmonic in 2003. In its choice of repertoire, though, it doesn’t serve the cause as successfully. The two original Respighi works are early ones, a Burlesca from 1906 and his graduation piece from 1901, a grandly conceived Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. But while both are expertly crafted, neither has the thematic or harmonic distinctiveness of his mature writing.

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On the other hand, Rossiniana – a pendant to La boutique fantasque, written seven years after the ballet in 1925 and similarly based on the earlier Italian’s piano ‘trifles’ – is a miraculous piece of transformation. And the five Rachmaninov études-tableaux – a rare example outside the film world of one composer scoring a contemporary’s work with his full cooperation – are wonderful examples of Respighi’s orchestral wizardry. Noseda and his players respond in kind: less inspired in the pure Respighi, yet dazzling in the Rossini and profound in the Rachmaninov. The warm sound is up to Chandos’s usual standards. Matthew Rye