Respighi, Bach

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Respighi
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Metamorphoseon modi XII; Rossiniana; Burlesca per Orchestra
PERFORMER: Wuppertal SO/George Hanson
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 335 1030-2
Of the two original works – ie those that are not transcriptions or elaborations of music by other composers – one will be of particular interest to Respighi scholars and fans. Burlesca was and remains an unpublished work, and this is the first recording. It dates from 1906 and sounds like the early piece it is, though it contains many pointers to Respighi’s latter manner, not least in the opulent colours of its orchestration. The other original work, Metamorphoseon modi XII, was a Koussevitzky commission dating from 1930, its 12 movements composed in each of the different church modes. That might make it sound contrived, strait-laced, academic, even religiously solemn. Actually it is none of these things. Rather, it is a sort of lyrical concerto for orchestra, with each variation offering opportunity for different instrumentalists to show their mettle. The other two works are Rossiniana – which only partly takes up where Respighi’s other Rossini remodelling, La boutique fantasque, left off, since Rossini works the original materials into four movements of greater substance than anything in the earlier ballet suite – and the Passacaglia in C minor, a massive, rich but otherwise intact orchestration of Bach’s masterpiece. Slightly dry performances, perhaps, from the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra under George Hanson – Respighi should surely enjoy more of a luxuriant sound and approach – but done deftly enough, and a sympathetic recording. Stephen Pettitt