Respighi: Pini di Roma; Belkis, regina di Saba Suite; Ballata delle gnomidi

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Reference Recordings
WORKS: Pini di Roma; Belkis, regina di Saba Suite; Ballata delle gnomidi
PERFORMER: Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue
This disc is beautifully recorded, providing a spacious but transparent sonic environment for two of Ottorino Respighi’s lesser-known works and one of his most popular warhorses. The ballet Belkis, Queen of Sheba (1932) was too impractically extravagant to become a repertoire piece, and its music survives primarily through this suite which the composer extracted from it two years later. Filled with exotic colours and sensuous musical material, it is vintage Respighi, and this version claims to be the first recording to follow the original sequence of movements and to include the textless tenor solo in the final movement. Dance of the Gnomes was written in 1920, using as its basis a grisly poem by Carlo Clausetti, and Respighi’s orchestration eagerly meets the challenge of encompassing these grotesqueries. It is a tribute both to Respighi and to the performers that these works are not put into the shade by the Pines of Rome. The Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue plays with refinement and atmosphere; occasional hints of polite reserve scarcely diminish the impact of this vivid music. David Breckbill