WORKS: Harp Concerto; Bassoon Concerto; Trombone Concerto; Castel del Monte
PERFORMER: Luisa Prandina (harp), Paolo Carlini (bassoon), Guido Corti (horn), Andrea Conti (trombone); I Virtuosi Italiani/Marzio Conti
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9954
Nino Rota was one of the world’s great Oscar-winning film composers, with Romeo and Juliet, La dolce vita and The Godfather among his triumphs. As well as 150 film scores, he somehow found time to write a similar number of concert and theatrical works, and to remain director of the Bari Conservatory for 29 years. Unlike Malcolm Arnold, who was happy to let his film style spill over into his ‘serious’ works, Rota seemed more comfortable keeping both sides of his work apart, and these concertos are held tightly in check, revealing little of his proven dramatic instinct.
This is a pity, because his conservative, uncontentious neo-classical style and his traditional craftsmanship, although admirable, are not enough, and leave one frustrated that he didn’t bring his potent lyrical gifts to bear on these works. Nicely written for the instruments, they nevertheless sound fastidious and studious. The soloists play as fluently and eloquently as they can, but their lack of prominence in the recording balance prevents them from getting much credit for it. Harpist Luisa Prandina suffers most in this respect, frequently disappearing into the orchestral texture, while trombonist Andrea Conti manages, with some forthright blowing, to keep himself the centre of interest. Christopher Mowat