Casella: Sinfonia, Op. 63

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COMPOSERS: Casella
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Casella: Sinfonia, Op. 63
WORKS: Sinfonia, Op. 63; Italia; Introduzione, Corale e Marcia
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN10768

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This third volume of Alfredo Casella’s orchestral music follows its predecessors in reflecting some of the composer’s changeability. Vacillations in style are understandable in works separated by many years. However, it is disconcerting to discover that the bouncy nationalism of the relatively early Italia came not merely from the same pen but at the same time as Casella’s weighty Mahlerian Second Symphony (heard in Volume 1). Regardless, he lays bare his Italian soul in a thoroughly engaging way in this riposte to Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien and Strauss’s Aus Italien before launching into an infectiously raucous finale.

Aside from the plaintive central chorale and striking opening dissonance, the Introduzione, Corale e Marcia of 1935 has more bluster than allure. Three decades elapsed between the Second Symphony and its successor, the Sinfonia Op. 63, by which time Casella was definitely neo-classical in outlook. Nonetheless, the form clearly roused some of his early enthusiasms, for Mahlerian echoes creep in amidst the Stravinskian rhetoric. This is attractive music and the BBC Philharmonic under Noseda are strong advocates. However, whereas Stravinsky imprinted his personality firmly on every style he employed, after three volumes of this series, the essence of Casella is still not readily apparent.

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Christopher Dingle