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Respighi: Pini di Roma; Belkis, Queen of Sheba etc

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Alessandro Crudele (Linn Records)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Respighi
Pini di Roma; Belkis, Queen of Sheba; Impressioni brasiliane
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Alessandro Crudele
Linn Records CKD692   67:26 mins

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A cascading energy and brilliant darts of light suffuse conductor Alessandro Crudele’s view of the Villa Borghese at the opening of his new Pini di Roma. Textures are light yet pulsatingly alive, with hyper-alert responses from the London Philharmonic players. In ‘Pines near a catacomb’ Crudele rightly prefers a solemn slow-burn to lugubrious melodrama, and principal trumpet Paul Beniston plays a beautiful solo.

‘Pines of the Janiculum’ has a lissome sensuality, with gorgeous contributions from the violin and cello sections. And in ‘Appian Way’ Crudele cleverly makes the approach of the consular army just as interesting as its arrival, the procession evoking pleasure, not a mindless decibel assault. This is a richly informative Pini, and more than holds its own among the many rival versions.

The couplings are also interesting. Impressioni brasiliane is a less coherent work than Pini, but the LPO players clearly relish the slithering serpents and wry ‘Dies irae’ quotation in ‘Butantan’, and the traipsing ‘Canzone e Danza’ finale. The suite from Respighi’s ballet Belkis, Queen of Sheba closes the recording, and Crudele again impresses by giving soloists room to express themselves while also firmly marshalling the big ensemble moments. In Belkis these come in the ‘Danza guerresca’ and ‘Danza orgiastica’, where the LPO dispatch the complex syncopations with bracing accuracy.

Throughout the programme Mike Hatch’s engineering plays a major part in harnessing both clarity and amplitude from London’s Henry Wood Hall acoustic. The 24-bit download format provides especially thrilling results.

Terry Blain

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