Respighi: La boutique fantasque; La pentola magica; Prelude & Fugue in D (after Bach)

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: La boutique fantasque; La pentola magica; Prelude & Fugue in D (after Bach)
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
Respighi’s recasting of a clutch of Rossini tunes, La boutique fantasque, is full of loud, confident music, and in spite of a marked strain of hamminess is undeniably infectious and enjoyable. The BBC Philharmonic under principal conductor Gianandrea Noseda plays it all with a straight face and makes a real success of things. Horns are bright and brilliant, strings ebullient, everything as gross and brash as the music demands, switching to a pleasurably melting and sentimental mood for the ‘Valse lente’ movement and culminating in a noisy, declamatory and expertly rendered fugato.


The less well-known ballet La pentola magica (The Magic Pot) is, by contrast, a charming and dreamy affair, conceived by Respighi as a set of pastiches of various Russian composers combined with his own compositions in Russian folk style. Players and conductor leave behind the antics of Boutique and instil in their place a delicate and innocent naivety that is frequently extremely affecting. And then it is back to Respighi the extrovert for his ‘orchestral interpretation’ of a prelude and fugue by JS Bach, a monstrous curiosity that throws in a piano – why on earth not? – and is utterly irrepressible and great fun.


There are plenty of versions of La boutique fantasque in the catalogue, but unless one is particularly addicted to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops (RCA), this new Chandos recording – with its unusual and rather extraordinary couplings – is the one I would go for. Christopher Wood