Rota: La strada ballet suite; Sinfonia sopra una canzone d’amore; Waltzes from II gattopardo

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COMPOSERS: Rota
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: La strada ballet suite; Sinfonia sopra una canzone d’amore; Waltzes from II gattopardo
PERFORMER: Palermo Teatro Massimo SO/Marzio Conti
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10090
There are no great revelations here. Earlier discs of Nino Rota’s concert works on this and other labels have suggested a composer who could rise to the occasion when required. The present issue portrays a man who could delight one minute and bore the next. The ballet La strada was derived from the plot of Fellini’s famous film of the same name for which Rota composed the score. At its best, this half-hour suite shares the fresh inspiration of Prokofiev, particularly in its perky circus music and the Romanticism of the score’s ‘big tune’ (the atypically unhelpful Chandos booklet note does not deign to outline the plot of film or ballet to help the listener).

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At the other extreme is the Symphony, a four-movement work based on an unspecified love song and written in a central European folksy style that would not have alarmed Dvorák over half a century earlier. By the time of its premiere in 1972, its music had found its home in the score to Visconti’s film Il gattopardo (The Leopard), but as a symphony it is old hat indeed. Finally come two more enjoyable waltzes from the same film score, the first an orchestration of an unpublished piece by Verdi.

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The orchestra from Palermo’s opera house, the Teatro Massimo, lacks the finesse of the ensembles Chandos is more usually able to call upon. The violin solos in the ballet suite are weak and some of the ensemble playing suggests too cursory a preparation. Nor is the recording up to the usual Chandos house standards when its own engineers are able to be in full control, displaying a stridency and lack of tonal warmth. Matthew Rye