WORKS: Complete songs for voice and piano, Vol. 1: Five Songs in Ancient Style; Deità silvane
PERFORMER: Leonardo de Lisi (tenor), Reinild Mees (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 9396
Gradually we are getting to know more and more of Respighi’s music. A handful of his songs appear occasionally in recitals, but this systematic attempt to record them in toto reveals a wide range and considerable expertise: indeed the technical finish of the songs is their outstanding feature, while all of them prove attractive and nearly all of them memorable.
What Respighi rarely seems to have achieved, however, is a style of his own: here, intimations of Tosti in the earliest examples from the late 1890s are later replaced by elements borrowed from Brahms, Strauss, Debussy and others, all skilfully assimilated but scarcely ever attaining a uniquely personal synthesis.
There is much to enjoy nevertheless, from the delicate archaisms of the Five Songs in Ancient Style of 1906 to the sophisticated Arcadian nostalgia of the Deità silvane (‘Woodland Gods’) cycle of 1917. Leonardo de Lisi delivers them with high musicality and excellent diction. Reinild Mees’s accompaniments are neat and considered. The sound is nicely managed, though I could have done with a touch more piano. Good documentation. George Hall